The way forward on teacher hours

18th February 2000 at 00:00
EVIDENCE to a body like the McCrone inquiry gains credibility if it comes from a variety of interests. The survey on workload commissioned by the Educational Institute of Scotland is more likely to demand attention because its findings mirror those of directors of education and headteachers, not to mention the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, which came up with similar conclusions.

Professor McCrone and his colleagues will not necessarily be impressed by the number of hours teachers say they work. These certainly do not exceed the load imposed on most professionals, all of whose jobs have changed as much as teachers' over recent years. The question is whether the additional burdens must all fall on the professional group itself or whether some coul be diverted elsewhere.

No one wants non-teachers to be involved in teaching and learning. The intricacies of, for example, Higher Still internal assessment must remain with teachers, and arguments for simplifying procedures should be directed to the Scottish Qualifications Authority. On such matters, a head who was not a teacher would not be listened to.

But the McCrone inquiry will perform a great service if it isolates time-consuming activities that need not be performed by teachers. Offloading these would not necessarily reduce the hours worked but would ensure more sensible use of time. That in turn would cut stress, for nothing is more sapping than being diverted by trivia. The case for more support staff in school is incontrovertible.

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