What planet are these unions living on?

19th June 2009 at 01:00

Following reports about the possibility of the class teacher unions balloting members about strike action on class size and the implementation of the new curriculum, I share Brian Monteith's belief (June 5) that they are living on a different planet - my words not his.

How on earth any rational contributor could suggest, in these financially- straitened times, that strike action should come in to play because of a failure to deliver reduced class sizes is beyond me.

I understand the class teacher union position on reducing class sizes and AHDS does broadly support the pursuit of smaller classes. However, with school budgets being cut, reducing class sizes across the board should be well down the agenda - or do unions want small classes with no resources or support staff, filled with pupils who have not had the benefits of a solid nursery education? Or perhaps the plan is that a series of strikes would free up some money from the teachers' wage bill?

As for the new curriculum and given its omnipresence over the last four years, I find it unbelievable that any class teacher knows much less than all there is to know about. On top of that, I have the impression that local authorities are starting to get their teeth into supporting the implementation of A Curriculum for Excellence.

I wholly accept that there are elements of the programme which are less developed than we would like at this stage, and that the secondary sector is keen to have greater clarity about structures and assessment, but Scottish education needs to embrace this change and make it the best it can be.

To contemplate or take strike action on these issues, puts unreasonable and unrealistic pressure on government and local authorities. It also risks education and educators becoming public enemy number one. Education is part of the wider public service where budgets are tight and getting tighter. Like all other parts of the system, it cannot expect huge levels of investment in these times.

Greg Dempster, general secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes, Scotland.

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