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EDITIONS
Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Teachers' leader in reforms warning
EIS conference
The EIS general secretary said society owed a debt to teachers
BBC Scotland Education Correspondent Ken Macdonald reports

The leader of Scotland's biggest teachers' union has warned the government over proposals for reform of the profession.

But the General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, Ronnie Smith, also told the union's annual conference in Perth that the profession would have to be prepared to change to survive.

In his conference address, Mr Smith said teachers had suffered years of abuse and neglect and it was time for society's debt to the profession to be repaid.

EIS vote
Catholic schools motion amended
It is widely expected the forthcoming education bill will seek reform of the teaching profession.

But Mr Smith called on the new Scottish administration to consult rather than 'dust down' Labour's pre-election White Paper - dubbed the Education for the Nation Bill.

His speech follows a unanimous decision by delegates at the conference to back an emergency motion which supports industrial action if a deal on pay and conditions is not agreed by August.

Unions 99
Mr Smith said the EIS would go the extra mile in search of agreement but the patience of teachers was nearly exhausted.

He warned that if the response from the Government were not acceptable, the EIS would do whatever was necessary to restore teaching as a highly-paid, highly-qualified profession at the heart of society.

Catholic schools

The conference backed away from a motion calling for the abolition of Catholic schools.

EIS delegates from Aberdeen denied the move was an anti-Catholic measure, but the union's leadership said it was not compatible with a pluralistic society.

The conference voted narrowly for an amendment which said the schools could only be abolished with the consent of the church and the parents.

The issue will now go back to the union's national executive.

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