Barclay McBain, Education Correspondent, profiles the four candidates

who will face the final daunting test for leadership of the Educational

Institute of Scotland.

ON FRIDAY evening the council, the principal decision-making body of

the Educational Institute of Scotland, will elect a new general

secretary to succeed Jim Martin, who has joined life assurance society

Scottish Amicable.

There are four candidates for the post -- full-time EIS officials

Ronnie Smith and Ian McKay, and elected members George MacBride and Eric

Young. Job interviews can be daunting at the best of times and this is

one selection process which is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

There were initially 16 candidates for the job of leading, organising,

and managing Scotland's fifth biggest trade union. A long leet with nine

names was reduced to a short leet containing four last Friday night.

Each candidate will appear before the council, which has about 140

members who represent each EIS local association, or branch. Each

hopeful will make an opening statement. Council members will then be

given the opportunity to question the candidate before he is asked to

make a closing statement. The ordeal -- or opportunity, depending on

your outlook -- will last about 30 minutes for each interviewee.

Then the council moves to the vote. Voting continues until one

candidate secures an overall majority. Each time the vote is taken

without an overall winner the bottom candidate drops out.

And the prize for the winner? A salary of about #48,000 to run a union

with a healthy bank balance, membership income of more than #3m, and a

membership which has increased by 15% to nearly 49,000 teachers in

nursery, primary, secondary, further, and higher education.

And, if the general secretary is content to stay in post, he can sleep

easy in the knowledge that he will not have to go through the experience

again. The EIS was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria, which

means it is exempt from the Government legislation requiring trade-union

leaders to stand for re-election at regular intervals.

George MacBride

THE popular convener of the EIS education committee is principal

teacher of learning support at Govan High, Glasgow. Aged 48, with a wife

and two children, he was born in Glasgow but brought up in Fort William.

A graduate in English of Glasgow University, he joined the institute

when he started teaching and became involved in union activities at

school level as EIS rep. He spends about 30% of his working time on EIS


As convener of the key education committee, he is credited with having

given the EIS a cutting edge in the field of education policy. He has

not allowed that policy to be driven by issues concerning teachers'

conditions of service. Under his convenorship educational matters have

been assessed on their merits and argued for or against from an EIS

perspective on education, rather than on dogmatic grounds. A stout and

articulate defender of comprehensive education, he is highly regarded in

the education world. He is respected in the key curriculum body, the

SCCC, and at ministerial level. He is regarded as an intellectual, and

there was surprise in some EIS circles at his decision to apply for the


Ian McKay

* A 40-year-old from West Lothian, he has been a full-time official of

the EIS since 1988. A graduate in Education and English Studies of

Stirling University, he was active in student politics, having been

president of the students' union and then rector of the university.

Before becoming an EIS assistant secretary he taught in the further

education sector, at Stevenson College in Edinburgh. He was involved at

regional level in the College Lecturers' Association of the EIS.

Married with two children, he is regarded as being very able and a

good administrator. He will bring a political perspective to the EIS if

he secures the post. He has a profile in the STUC and is aware of the

central role the institute plays in the Scot tish trade-union movement.

His job is to service the EIS executive and he works with Ronnie Smith

on salaries, although like George MacBride he lacks experience of pay or

conditions negotiations at national level. He has a forthright manner

and has a reputation for not suffering fools. Of all the candidates, he

is widely seen as being an earnest advocate of the most radical policies

in the EIS leadership.

Ronnie Smith

* A FORMER principal teacher of Latin and Modern Studies in Broxburn

Academy, West Lothian, he also became a full-time assistant secretary of

the EIS in 1988. He is a 43-year-old Shetlander with a degree in Latin

and Economic History from Aberdeen University. He has a wife and two

children and did a lot for the EIS in an elected capacity before moving

to headquarters.

He is very much a backroom boy, working away assiduously on pay,

conditions, and legal cases and matters. His attention to detail is

legendary. His strength is taking the long view. He is steady, not

easily panicked, and has a great respect for the institute. He is highly

regarded among trade-union officials outside the EIS, and worked for

four years with his opposite number on the local authority management

side to replace fragmented agreements with a single, coherent conditions

of service document for teachers. An honest, modest, and deep man, he

has a reputation for being slow at promoting himself. His biggest

drawback is not pushing his own personality and, if elected, he will

probably not relish such public duties as giving the keynote address at

the institute's annual general meeting.

Eric Young

* A NATIVE of Greenock and graduate in English of Strathclyde

University in Glasgow, he is assistant principal teacher of English at

Johnstone High in Renfrewshire. Early on in his involvement with the

institute he decided to concentrate on EIS work rather than seek further

promotion in teaching. A 45-year-old with a wife and son, his many

responsibilities at local and national level mean that he works almost

full time for the EIS. He is the younger brother of The Herald's

economics editor, Alf Young.

He is widely seen as the most able of the new breed of elected members

to take on leadership roles in the EIS. A likeable, articulate man, he

made few enemies when he successfully steered through parhaps the most

contentious proposals in the EIS in the last seven or eight years. The

biggest shake-up in the union's history will result in decision-making

being streamlined and more power being devolved to local offices. With

assistant secretary Simon Macaulay, he worked very hard on the

proposals. His presentation of the case for change was said to be

excellent. He is comfortable with the media, although he has no

experience of running an organisation and has no great experience in the

trade-union movement outside the EIS.