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The year of the EIS

The Educational Institute of Scotland was founded in an inconvenient year, Donald Dewar told the union's 150th anniversary dinner. The Secretary of State said that he had instructed his officials to find out what else happened in 1847 but they had not come up with anything. So Dewar announced that the EIS must really have been founded in 1848 when a lot happened, mostly revolutions.

In fact, the Scottish Office need have looked no further than Tom Bone's history of the Inspectorate to learn. HMI's annual report for 1847 stated that of 104 teachers examined 43 had been to university and only three or four had been recruited from other jobs. "There are no decayed tradesmen or disabled labourers among them."

None the less a quarter were, "from age and infirmity, unequal to the duties of their office". Small wonder the EIS was founded to promote "sound learning", or was it to protect members from overzealous Government comment on incompetent teachers?

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