Teachers silenced - 'Essential that concerns can be aired openly'

Parents worried about the impact of spending cuts on their children's schools will only be more disturbed today after reading our story about the latest advice being given to councillors.

What they are being told by Mike Rosendale, the city's head of schools, is that "any queries which you receive from staff who are your constituents should be directed to their headteacher".

The local authority denies it is trying to stop teachers raising concerns with their elected representatives about the dramatic changes planned in the city's schools.

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But it is hard to see how advice like that can be construed as anything other than an attempt to restrict open discussion about one of the most important issues facing the city today, how to handle the impact of public spending cuts on our children's education.

We have been here before, remember, when the local authority issued advice to teachers which appeared to attempt to gag them. The council also insisted then that this was not its aim - but no lessons seem to have been learned from that experience.

At a time when rumours abound about what the local authority has planned, including claims that one teacher will be expected to head up a faculty covering subjects as diverse as English and foreign languages, it is essential that all concerns can be aired openly and discussed fully.

We must be thankful that city politicians like councillor Paul Godzik and MSP Alison Johnstone are prepared to take a stand and reassure teachers they will listen to any of their concerns in the strictest confidence. After all, isn't that exactly the job that we elected them to do?

Heids on the block

'wha daur meddle wi' me pub?" might be the battle cry of worried locals who fear owner Mitchell & Butlers is about to destroy the character of the famous Sheep Heid Inn.

The historic Duddingston inn has a unique place in Scottish history having reputedly played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army, Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI.

The owners are now planning a controversial overhaul, but are adamant the work will respect the bar's heritage and improve some of its gloomier corners without changing its character.

We sincerely hope they are right, but in seeking to revamp a building with such rich history they must tread extremely carefully. And keep in mind those words associated with another famous Scottish king: "What is done cannot be undone."