Teacher Professionalism and Working Time

Created on: 23 Jan 2018 | Last modified: 04 Jul 2018


1.1 The Annual General Meeting of the Institute held in June 2002 approved the following resolution:

"That this AGM instruct Executive Council to prepare advice to members on balancing the professional requirements of a teacher within the 35 hour week."

1.2 This advice derives from the March 2001 position paper entitled "Initial Guidance for Local Associations on Working Time", the EIS leaflet "Teacher Professionalism and the Scottish Parliament" and the Institute's policy and advice paper dealing with School Development Planning.

1.3 "Teachers, after full registration with the General Teaching Council, do not require day to day supervision and direction. The EIS is committed to the professional autonomy of the teacher, to collegial management of schools and to greater democracy in schools.

Collegial management should mean that the senior staff in schools are openly accessible to individual teachers whether promoted or unpromoted and that all teachers should be supported by colleagues in their work within the classroom". (Teacher Professionalism and the Scottish Parliament, page 9). The above quotation contains the essence of the strategy which underpinned the work of the Institute's representatives on the post-McCrone implementation negotiations.

The desire, therefore, to achieve a greater level of professionalism and professional autonomy was central to the negotiating objectives of the EIS in late 2000.

1.4 The EIS, and a number of representatives from the Management Side, were committed to removing the "time zone" mentality which the 1987 agreement had fostered within the service and were determined to create a new climate of teacher professionalism by removing those aspects of the Main settlement which, by their very nature, were anti-professional and anti-teacher (eg Planned Activity Time).

What was required was a new balance between professional teacher autonomy and professional responsibility and accountability. The following extract from Teacher Professionalism and the Scottish Parliament (page 5) highlights the main elements of the  Institute's approach.

"There have been major developments in changes and attitudes as regards accountability within the public sector. In particular we have now a greater understanding of the ways in which public sector organisations including schools can become learning organisations so as to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. There is a growing awareness that all employees should be able to participate in setting the direction of the organisation.

In such organisations the range of skills of all members of the community are employed to the benefit of their clients. Such organisations develop means of promoting and responding to change which ensure that all are valued and recognise that accountability is a considerably more complex concept than some in the past have recognised."

1.5 In addition, the EIS was keen to underpin this re-professionalising approach with a commitment to Continuing Professional Development as a basic entitlement of all teachers. Again, our approach is highlighted by the following extract from Teacher Professionalism and the Scottish Parliament (page 4).

"Teachers have for years indicated the inadequacies in in-service training arrangements and the failings have more recently been acknowledged, for example, by the McCrone Report. The need for an appropriate, coherent national CPD strategy which addresses the collective needs of education, the collective needs of the profession and the individual needs of qualified teachers is a key element in guaranteeing high levels of professionalism for the future.

A coherent national CPD strategy, with teachers as well trained, reflective practitioners at its centre, presents also new opportunities and challenges for the educational system as a whole. It places, more firmly than ever before, the teacher at the heart of the educational process."

1.6 However, the professional autonomy of the teacher must be balanced by other considerations and commitments. Teacher Professionalism and the Scottish Parliament (page 7).

"This autonomy cannot be absolute. Teachers have contractual obligations to employers. Teacher autonomy is further constrained by the need to recognise that teachers work within multi-faceted organisations which demand partnership and collaboration with others. These include professional colleagues, but also involve an ever increasing number of other agencies and individuals."

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