The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers has told members of Scotland’s biggest teaching union to be thankful they do not work south of the border.
Christine Blower was a guest speaker at the annual EIS conference in Perth on Friday, and laid out fundamental differences between teachers’ experiences in England and Scotland.
The existence of collective bargaining in Scotland was in “stark contrast” to the situation in England. Scotland, where there is no equivalent to the academies programme, also had “functioning local authorities”.
The two unions’ shared antipathy for former Westminster education secretary Michael Gove was clear when hearty applause greeted a joke about his imaginary demise, while Ms Blower also said Scotland should be grateful not to have an inspectorate like Ofsted.
“I well remember a Scottish teacher friend saying to me that the last thing Scotland would ever need would be the foul miasma of Ofsted creeping over Hadrian’s Wall – and how right he was,” said Ms Blower.
She acknowledged that Scotland and England faced similar difficulties around pay and conditions, class sizes and workload, and that the “disgraceful” cuts set out in the Conservative government’s austerity programme would have a knock-on effect on Scottish schools.
But Ms Blower advised Scottish teachers not to lose sight of differences either side of the border: “It’s true that your system may be very far from perfect, as all the delegates are saying, but I can tell you it’s a jolly sight better than the paradigm we’ve got at the moment.”