New scheme with that sinking feeling

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CALL me uncharitable but magnanimous gestures by governments usually have more strings than a Czech puppeteers’ ensemble.

Almost a century later, the Scottish government has produced another wheeze in the form of the Chartered Teacher (CT) programme, an initiative that, to my mind, has as much credibility as conferring UK citizenship on any pygmy over 6ft tall. Of course, those who helped dream up this nightmare for classroom staff disagree. The editorial of April’s Scottish Education Journal, the must-bin magazine of the EIS, says "all the signs are that the CT scheme is working well." This bizarre statement is akin to the last entry in the ship’s log by the Titanic lookout: "Fine night, not an iceberg in sight."

Objective evidence clearly shows the CT programme is dead in the water. Of 20,000 or so teachers who meet the criteria (by reaching the top of the unpromoted pay scale), only 6,000 expressed initial interest. To date, only 2,500 have embarked on the CT programme - no matter, I remind you, this is a sign that things are working well, say the EIS.

David Blunkett could see why the CT programme is as popular as a minute’s silence for the Pope. Teaching isn’t the oldest profession but the key issues are time and money. In film-noir classic The Killers, Angie Dickinson pleads for her life by promising bullet-ridden hit-man Lee Marvin everything he wants. "Lady, I don’t have the time for this," says Marvin, shooting her in cold blood. After a gruelling day of verbal abuse and being an unwilling participant in implementing the latest management fad, Sir metamorphoses into Lee Marvin. What experienced classroom teacher wishes to surrender Saturdays and week-day evenings to attend lectures on how to teach? I’m confident of my teaching abilities and I certainly don’t need a Paisley Tech, sorry, University of Paisley, lecturer to validate me.

Money is the root of all evil and, frankly, I resent being asked to cough up 7,500, a quarter of my gross annual salary, to feed the academic vultures offering CT training. I’m further unimpressed by the government’s Robin Hood-in-reverse strategy whereby some of the richest in the profession, deputy headteachers who typically earn 40k-plus, pay nothing when they undertake the Scottish Qualification for Headship, a possible passport to salaries of 70,000-plus.

Even the loose cannons of that radical body known as the General Teaching Council for Scotland recognise the CT scheme is broke and needs fixing. It has called for the first module fee of 600 to be paid for by the taxpayer to raise morale among teaching’s minions but the Executive has rubber-eared (oops, slipped into Glasgow patois) this request. By the looks of things, I’ll be a pensioner before I’ll be a Chartered Teacher.

• Hugh Reilly is a teacher at a Glasgow high school.