Where did collegiality go?

17th June 2011 at 01:00

Scotland's educational system is in deep crisis. The present battle to impose new terms on the teaching profession is a reflection of this. It is not the various elements in the proposals being presented by Cosla that worry me, nor indeed even the union's threats of industrial action.

The crisis in Scottish Education is the failure of all sides to see the elephant in the room: our failure to deliver the target set out on the Scottish Government's website: "Scottish education is among the best performing in the world. (Our) ambition is to make it the best in the world."

We have spent more money per pupil than England does, and yet English schools have improved their attainment, overtaking us while spending less per pupil.

Our First Minister needs to recognise that his political and economic vision for a future Scotland can only be achieved if we tackle in a serious manner the thorny issue of how to improve our schools.

First, Cosla's aims are driven by cutting costs. Furthermore, some local authorities seem driven by an anti-teacher agenda, which will only exacerbate the problem, as it drives teachers to seek to defend their contractual rights. Second, a vision of a prosperous Scotland and an effective educational system will best be arrived at by developing partnerships between teachers, parents, government and local authorities.

Power is the key and it needs to be shared. But the present McCormac review has too narrow a remit, as its focus is on reviewing teachers' employment. Managerial bureaucracy, such as an over-emphasis on monitoring where teachers spend hours filling in pointless forms, should be dispensed with. Remove the fear that many teachers have of not feeling empowered and, yes, tackle the problems of ineffective teachers.

Collegiality was a very important word in the McCrone agreement, but it seems to have been lost. We need to find it again if we wish to avoid the disintegration of our educational system.

John Rae, history teacher, Old Bothwell Road, Bothwell.

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