Criticism of teachers denied

I would like to reply to Joy Snape’s letter which The Southern published on September 11 in which I was accused of attacking teachers, and would like to give the facts.

I was contacted by parents who felt they were misled by Scottish Borders Council over the consultation around the asymmetric (four-and-a-half day) week, and having attended meetings myself on the issue I have to agree with them.

The information given to parents clearly said the key benefit was that teacher training, development sessions and cross-working groups would be held during the pupil-free afternoon. There is a consensus among all our primary and secondary head teachers that an asymmetric week would allow greater collaboration between primary and secondary teachers, and enhance joint planning around key aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence.

No one explained to parents some schools were perfectly entitled to chose to do this work outwith the free afternoon.

When I was challenged about this after the summer break when parents could see variations from school to school, I told them I would raise the issue at the education committee meeting. The asymmetric week was on the agenda and during this time I raised my constituents’ concerns, and said I agreed with parents as I was given the same information as them and I felt it was misleading.

At no time did I criticise teachers or the hours they work. The issue was purely about the wording of the consultation document and what the public were told at presentations.

I was sitting next to the teacher representative at the meeting and explained to him where I was coming from, but if teachers got the impression I was critical of them, then I am sorry. That was never the intention.

Councillor Tom Weatherston