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The Scottish Education System - what's wrong with it ???

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by gnulinux, May 17, 2015.

  1. Scubadt

    Scubadt New commenter

    We have something similar. Pretty sure it was implemented to keep someone in a job until another, more senior, job becomes available...
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  2. Marco82

    Marco82 Established commenter

    Scottish education has nothing wrong with, Apparently, for the Finns are now going to come over and learn from us about the success of CfE. Maybe next we'll see Barcelona coming over to study the SPL to find out how to play football.
    piglet171 likes this.
  3. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Name one thing that has improved about Scottish Education since the start of this thread i.e. 17th May 2015???
  4. beharder

    beharder Occasional commenter

    We no longer have the incredibly inept Angela Constance in charge replaced by Swinney however, gnulinux you have a point.
  5. sharonmcfarlane

    sharonmcfarlane New commenter

  6. sharonmcfarlane

    sharonmcfarlane New commenter

    Came across this. 3 years on and still completely spot on.
  7. louisecurly

    louisecurly New commenter

    Hi folks-just discovered this thread after being away for a bit. So much info and food for thought.
    I'm having a bit of an issue with this...
    At a recent in service day, we (teaching staff) were shown a council slide show about do's and don'ts in the workplace-mostly standard stuff. However, one slide said that workers should not criticise the council or it's policies as this would be seen as slander. Now, I picked up on this last year at the same time and openly said that this was illegal-freedom of speech and all that. No one agreed or disagreed and while I genuinely love my job and don't have any issues with the council, I do criticise policies-not for the sake of it but because my professional opinion isn't in alignment. Has anyone else experienced this or knows where we stand on it?
    There have often been times when managers have come back from meetings and said they disagreed with the said person (ed. psych/O.T/QIO) but that they 'shouldn't have' because they could have 'lost their job'. Now, unless I am missing something, disagreeing with another member of staff regardless of title wasn't grounds for being sacked. Is this something I should be concerned about or is it deliberately directed at staff to intimidate? I have worked for a few council across Scotland and have never experience this before.
    Any thoughts would be much appreciated-thanks
    bigjimmy2 and sicilypat like this.
  8. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    It will probably refer to going on social media and saying X and Y. The simple thing is just not to write it down and broadcast it to all your friends.

    Every teacher probably says that their local authority is shyte. It's because they all are.
  9. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I think it refers to being careful to what you say on Facebook and other social media and remember that what you think is a private conservation with "friends" (even in a closed group) could be potentially seen or reported to other people.
    curlylouise likes this.
  10. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    I think what councils' policies are that you are not to "criticise" the council to third parties, eg the press. You will be free to criticise (professionally) council policies within the workplace. Gossip does not count as criticism.
    catmother and curlylouise like this.
  11. curlylouise

    curlylouise New commenter

    Thanks for your comments: it didn't refer it all to social media, that I could have understood. It was more of a general 'you're not allowed to say anything bad about the council': very strange. I'm in touch with the union to ask more about this and see if I can find out where this is coming from.
    Thanks again :)
    sicilypat and bigjimmy2 like this.
  12. sicilypat

    sicilypat New commenter

    There are ramifications from this policy which extend beyond social media. I approached a Green councillor in my authority after he had voted on a totally inappropriate merger between my school and another establishment. I wanted to know his opinion on the merger so that I could decide if I would vote for him in local elections, as he was a candidate in my ward. He stated that he had not known all the details of the merger but that now that it was taking place he would visit the school in an official capacity to see how the merger was progressing. In the meantime my union warned me that such contact could result in disciplinary procedures, so I had to hastily write to the councillor to explain that I could no longer communicate with him. This policy can definitely be used to stifle any dissent.
    curlylouise likes this.
  13. curlylouise

    curlylouise New commenter

    Is this actually legal though? The union has got back in touch with me saying that there is info on this on the disciplinary code policy although I've looked through it and can't see anything that states this so I need to investigate a bit further. I had always thought that we, as educated professionals, were free to challenge or disagree with opinions. I realised that slagging of the council for the sake of it would be inappropriate but disagreeing with opinions on policies? Am I being naïve?
    sicilypat likes this.
  14. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    OK, former councillor and former teacher in Scotland here....

    Yes, there is something which prevents teachers from discussing formally with Cllrs (going to use this abbreviation as my computer keeps autocorrecting to the US spelling) any issue about their own school - this also goes for any other employee, from what I recall. What it does not - and should not - do is prevent genuine whistleblowing.

    @sicilypat well, your Cllr admitted voting on an issue without knowing all the details - which is, sadly, a very common failing simply because so many issues in education and other parts of the council are either too complicated for most Cllrs to understand, or they simply didn't have the time to read the papers properly because they were working in their main job. That alone, though, would have been a reason not to vote for him - for all my failings as a Cllr, when I was doing something which affected peoples jobs I always made sure I had the full picture.
    sicilypat and curlylouise like this.
  15. curlylouise

    curlylouise New commenter

    Thanks for this-good to know. I kind of understand the councillor link but am waiting back from union regarding our abilities to disagree with other professionals ( I was convinced this was well within our rights as long as it's done professionally of course) and I can't find the part in the disciplinary code policy which says we can't talk negatively about the council=it does state that we can't do this out with service hours but nothing for actually in school hours. Again, it is important to note that none of our staff are openly or deliberately shaming the council-we're all pretty happy in our job but we are often criticising the changes in society, our lack of power, parent control and tick boxes. This is where the confusion is and where I need some clarification. I've generally never experienced this before in my 12 years of teaching-I guess we're always learning! :)
  16. sicilypat

    sicilypat New commenter

    There is a very fine line between "whistleblowing" and criticising the council. Is highlighting an attempt to close an SEN establishment under the radar criticism or whistleblowing? I was warned by my Head Teacher, who spoke to me alone in my classroom, not to discuss the council plans with either former students or parents- "Watch what you are doing. The council does not like this type of thing".
    I felt powerless to alert anyone to the obvious consequences of this inappropriate merger. Consultation documents set out all the future benefits for our students and why this would secure the future of our provision. Years later school gone, money saved, council objective achieved.
    curlylouise and bigjimmy2 like this.
  17. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Defamation is a spoken or written expression which is deemed to harm the reputation of an individual and proved to be false. It is defined under the 1996 Defamation Act and, I believe, there were amendments proposed in 2014 to take account of the internet and social media.

    If a LA employer is cautioning their employees not to criticise the council or its policies, I am unclear how this would fall within the scope of the Defamation Act (1996).

    However, whilst employed by a LA on a teaching contract, I think it would be unwise to publicly criticise your employer or their policies as it may be a breach of your employment contract and the professional standards required for working as a teacher.

    Whilst it may seem like common sense that teachers should be able to display critical thinking skills and professionally challenge current educational theory and practice, in a constructive manner, the sad truth is we are living at a time when educational policy is being dictated from above and micro-managed with a great deal of central government control.

    Of course one could argue that teachers should rise up against such damaging and ill thought-out educational policies if only for the benefit of pupils, if nothing else, but I don't see much evidence of that happening any time soon.

    Then again, if you have witnessed how some teachers are treated by LA employers for daring to stand up to dishonest, and unjust, employment practices, it is hardly surprising if some decide to keep their heads down and avoid confrontation.

    Whilst there may be some safety in numbers within an average sized secondary school, the same can not necessarily be said of a small rural primary school where it is all too easy for a LA to intimidate a teacher with total disregard for their employment rights.

    For example, I know of a recent case where a very capable teacher was dismissed by a LA, using evidence provided by a QIO, without due process, and yes, the teacher's union was involved.

    After a long, drawn-out and very stressful period in their life, they were eventually awarded maximum damages at an employment tribunal which, in no way, made up for the loss of income and damage to their health. Even worse, the employer then took steps to try to stop them ever working in teaching again for embarrassing the local authority. How unjust is that.

    In summary, I suspect your LA, or school, is citing the Defamation Act (1996) inappropriately but that does not mean they will not use your teaching contract or, other, more underhand means to try to intimidate you if you are seen as a threat to their authority and educational agenda.

    So, yes, take union advice but remember the teaching unions will not necessarily provide you with the backing you expect.
    curlylouise, bigjimmy2 and sicilypat like this.
  18. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    Regardless of the rights or wrongs of allegedly criticising the council, it was good of your HT to warn you. Too many HTs would be only too glad to see so-called troublemakers disciplined.
    sicilypat and curlylouise like this.
  19. curlylouise

    curlylouise New commenter

    Jeez-this is terrifying. I honestly haven't come across this before always thinking that critical questioning of policies or behaviours would be good-surely that was what we were all trained to do? Thanks for sharing this-much appreciated
    bigjimmy2 and sicilypat like this.
  20. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

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