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EDITIONS
Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Teachers' leader attacks ministers
Teacher through door
Teachers were praised for their flexibility
The president of Scotland's largest teaching union has launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Executive's education policies.

John Patton, of the EIS, said there was a widening gulf between what teachers feel is professionally appropriate and what is expected of them by politicians.

At the union's annual conference, in Dundee, he said the executive had failed to advance its agenda for social inclusion by failing to cut class sizes across the country.

He also branded a consultation paper on national priorities for education as shallow, conservative and inflexible.

Mr Patton paid tribute to teachers across the country, praising them for working hard and showing flexibility.

'Widening gulf'

But he warned: "There is today a widening gulf between what teachers feel is professionally appropriate and that which is unreasonably demanded of them politically."

Teachers were helping the executive's stated aim of improving social inclusion, but he said the McCrone Committee had failed to seize the opportunity to make a strong recommendation on class sizes.

"It has sadly missed a unique opportunity to advance social inclusion in Scotland's schools much more than any other, single measure is liable to achieve".

Mr Patton was dismissive of the executive's plan for a national consultation on educational priorities.

He said: "It is a fairly shallow, deeply conservative and inflexible, retrogressive document of the back-to basics genre."

'Real opportunity'

The EIS president added that he feared the document could herald a return to greater segregation in education and that it put an unreasonable emphasis on skills which can be "measured".

Despite being critical of the executive's policies, Mr Patton was upbeat about the future and the opportunities offered by the Scottish Parliament.

He said: "In the new parliament we have a real opportunity to look forward, to recognise the many strengths of the current system, to make positive use of research evidence and to create an educational agenda which is dynamic, inclusive and uniquely Scottish."

In an emergency motion on the union's response to the McCrone Committee report, delegates voted in favour of continuing to talk to the executive.

The results of the vote were 221 votes in favour, 121 against.

The conference runs until Saturday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Education correspondent Kenneth Macdonald
"The leadership wants to carry on talking to the executive about McCrone"
See also:

31 May 00 | Scotland
31 May 00 | Scotland
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