NEW Labour leaders thought they had bought peace to the classrooms in Scotland through the McCrone agreement. They were left with no such illusions after the annual conference of the main teaching union met recently. EIS union delegates voted overwhelmingly to ballot the union membership for a boycott of the unworkable assessment requirements of the new Higher Still courses.
It is now almost a year since thousands of youngsters had their lives ruined by the SQA exam fiasco. Still education minister Jack McConnell and the Scottish Executive have done nothing to deal with the problems posed by internal assessment.
Teachers are not prepared to sit back for another year and watch more pupils sacrificed. In schools up and down Scotland headteachers are trying to use the McCrone agreement to increase teacher workload. That is the exact opposite of what our union leaders promised would happen when they sold the deal. In the stronger EIS branches heads are being told that this is unacceptable. Delegates from the floor also lambasted the impact of the Private Finance Initiative, which has turned schools into badly run building sites.
There were several motions passed condemning the appalling conditions pupils and teachers are facing. Conference warmly received a series of moving speeches to welcome refugees.
- Maureen Watson, EIS executive council (personal capacity)