AGM 2013 – Address by Susan Quinn, EIS President

Created on: 06 Jun 2013 | Last modified: 09 Feb 2021

Those of you who follow me on twitter know how much I love it and how I have used it to share what I have been involved in this past year.

I did indeed get a wee row from some for tweeting from the platform during conference last year like Will.I.Am in the Voice.

Now whilst I canny promise not to tweet over the next few days I will try to pass the twiton to you as delegates & you can share on #agm13

Before I begin to behave, in twitter terms, let me post one final tweet with a photo of the beginning of this important conference.


Now on with the business at hand. #speechtoconference

During the past 2 years I have shared the same wonderful experiences of past presidents and am immensely proud of Scottish education.

Indeed I am often struck by the disparity between the media headlines on education and reality on the ground.

Headlines highlight the negatives in education - schools failing, falling standards, dumbing down & other allegations by so called experts.

And whilst I accept that education as a public service should be open to scrutiny there surely should be balance in reporting to promote trust.

I also understand the argument that negativity and sensational stories sell papers & get people watching but we must celebrate success.

I'd suggest to Andy, Emma, Chris, Jamie etc that they follow the new president on his travels to see & report what is happening up & down the country.

Who could fail to smile at a story that shares about disabled children taking part in Scottish country dance whilst in wheelchairs?

How much more reassured would parents be to know of great practice in EY with pupils able to tell adults all about fairtrade & other areas of learning?

And though Michael Gove may not approve of pupils learning key skills and info through song I'm sure the Scottish public would.

So why not share the examples of P1 pupils singing the days of the week to the theme of the Adams Family, developing all areas of the brain.

The new qualifications are high on the agenda for all so wouldn't the public appreciate knowing that learning for life can be a reality.

Therefore share information of pupils running a café and being assessed on their participation as part of their qualification.

With the past greed of banking sector highlighted as causing much of the economic woes of the world let’s put out there work on financial ed.

Schools & colleges developing lessons in ethical banking and encouraging the future generation to think carefully about money.

Indeed some of these courses have been recognised as award winning & been successful within the UK competition context. Well done @JWCMoney1 

These just a few examples of the incredible work I've seen this year, all real, all special, all making a difference to young people in Scot

All examples of teachers working to promote sound learning for all in times of massive cuts, ensuring the needs of all are considered.

And so I say a huge thanks to all who have welcomed me into their establishments to have a nosey. I've learned so much from you all.

Special thanks to the pupils of St Ambrose High who had to adjust their menu for their assessment to cater for my gluten free diet, top marks.

Other areas of great pride this year came from standing on the picket line with colleagues from FE and HE in pursuit of their pay claims.

Proof positive that where we need to take action we will and that this action can achieve our aims.

Now as I've said Mr Gove may not appreciate the creative, active learning that is part of Scottish education but I am sure the pupils do.

I am also hopeful that the Cab Sec will celebrate the positives of Scottish education with us when he joins us on Saturday.

But what I also hope he will share is how we can address the crucial issues for all teachers and lecturers in Scotland.

How we can avoid teachers working till 68, meaning they are worn out and there are fewer jobs for those entering the profession.

How we can balance the desire to have better qualified teachers with the reality of lower salary levels.

How we can remove the over bureaucratic systems we see developing around planning & assessment which add only to workload.

How we can justify paying additional money to SMTs whilst seeing a reduction in lecturers in FE.

How we can overcome a position where it is accepted teachers will use their own money to provide pencils, paper, books for pupils.

How we can ensure all teachers are confident about all aspects of the curriculum and not at the expense of their health.

How we can continue to implement initiatives like professional update and TSF whilst facing cuts in resources in all sectors.

For these are the questions I have been asked as I have visited local associations and colleges during the past year.

We have heard reassuring messages from Mike and those at Education Scotland in recent weeks around bureaucracy.

But what teachers want to see is this being put into practice and making a real difference to their workload.

So what we really need is practical guidance to schools to move away from the hoops of red tape we currently have to a better way.

For the evidence from our members is that if we don't make progress in these areas then they are ready to take action.

91% of members recently indicating they are ready to take action on pension reforms shows the level of feeling in establishments.

Responses to surveys on the implementation of the curriculum in all sectors show major concerns across the board. 

The recent launch of our workload campaign shows how committed we are as an organisation to GIRFOM - get it right for our members.

This will be a campaign shaped largely by the debate of this conference - membership of the union has never been more important.

Participation in this AGM has never been more important. 

Your Executive committee will develop a campaign strategy led by your representations of your members in schools.

This campaign needs to be one which looks to positive actions to impact on workload for all. 

Setting the SMART targets we are so familiar with in school planning for our own campaign can help us to make an impact on workload.

So delegates please take the opportunity to share during the crucial debates of conference for your Executive members are listening.

Every campaign needs its slogan and in the interest of us becoming a greener organisation I thought we should start to recycle.

So for starters we have ‘Why Must Our Health Pay’ or Car sticker…’If you can read this thank your teacher…they’re under that pile of paperwork’ Or indeed Teach More, Plan Smarter, Write Less.

If anyone is feeling creative during conference & can come up with a good recycled slogan please submit and I'll award a prize for the best.

Now we move into this new campaign at the end of Larry's first year as our Top Cat and I would like to thank him for his support this year.

As first years in a job go I think we can say this has been quite a year. #understatement

Thrown straight into negotiations on pensions, salaries & McCormac Larry has taken his usual direct approach to those he meets.

Colleagues can be reassured that the Institute is in good hands with Larry seeking only to do what is in the best interest of all members.

Whether in modernising Moray Place or revamping AGM he has sought widest opinions & looks to make us fit for purpose for years to come.

My thanks to all within the EIS for their support this year. We have many wonderful employees who are always there to help and advise.

Particular thanks goes to all involved in organising our International Women's Day event in Dynamic Earth and our Poverty Conference.

Being part of the event attended by 200 members on a Saturday morning to challenge acceptance of poverty in our society was inspirational.

The event showed the institute has a role to play in wider social issues & can provide members with quality CPD that can make a difference.

To the Glasgow Crew my thanks for your support in keeping my level of insanity to an acceptable mildly mental.

For this I have a gift for you which hope keeps you from 'runnin aw aboot durin agm'.@raiphsays 

My thanks to all at Benview Campus. Our 1st year together coincided with my year as President & I couldn't have done it without them.

My thanks also to Glasgow Education Dept for supporting my time as President.

To those I have met during this year - there are those in education who are in it for what they can get not the passion of learning.

And this is why us passionate ones must keep up the good fight regardless of the impact on ourselves.

Enjoy conference and thanks