Tuesday, November 08, 2011

On the McCormac review

Apologies in advance because this is for a narrow audience. McCormac is a review into the pay and conditions of Scottish teachers and the reassertion of managerial control therein is, I would suggest, an added factor behind the now almost certain industrial action on the 30th of November.

That the aforementioned review should come up with proposals that, amongst other things, codify presenteeism and represent a deterioration in teachers' conditions of service shouldn't surprise anyone who's paid any attention to the make-up of the panel. It consisted of: one academic, one former head of HMIe, two Headteachers (one retired), one retired Herald hack, one chief executive from Edinburgh City Council, and one businesswomen/lawyer. Amazingly, the findings of the review were generally considered to be anti-teacher - who would have thunk?

But I wouldn't want to over-personalise the process; they're just channelling the Spirit of the Age, which is anti-public sector, anti-union, pro-employer, pro-management and therefore in favour of the mechanisms by which these demonstrate their power - hence the enthusiasm for presenteeism and 'flexibility'. This is the case even when the aforementioned advocates wear tartan, as is the case with Nationalist blogger Burdz Eye View who asks, "Am I missing something?":
"I am sure there are some nuances in the detail that pass this layperson by. But if that is the case, then be warned unions, for they will pass the average person, and indeed parent, in the street by as well.

So teachers will have to stay in school all day? Some of us will be surprised to learn they can and do leave. What, do they take themselves off to Starbucks when they have no contact time?!"
Space and the attention of the reader disallows an exhaustive list of what the 'Burd' is missing here so I'll restrict myself to a couple of points - the first relating to the above. The present relatively liberal arrangement is that when we are not teaching, we can work at a time and place of our own choosing. For example, while my present timetable doesn't actually allow me to leave early ever, if it did I could spend my time in Starbucks doing what I spent a fair chunk of Sunday doing, which was marking and reading about the Scottish Reformation. You'd think the Burd might be pleased I was brushing up on my Scottish history. But apparently it doesn't count unless I do this in a specified location at a specified time.

It doesn't count because teachers can't be trusted. Except if they're in management, of course. In this case, obviously they should be given more power. Hell, giving more power to Headteachers is like uniforms and religion: seems like all the hacks - amateur and professional - agree these are Good Things and that there should definitely be more of them in schools. I appreciate I'm only someone who actually works at the chalkface but I'm afraid I must demur. Take the following sentiment, for example (please):
"Do unions not trust headteachers to make the right judgement call?"
Don't be silly - of course we don't. Only someone who has had schools described to them could wonder why.

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