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All change for Glasgow staff

City says regular teacher exchanges would lead to 'high status and high standards'

Glasgow plans to introduce an "internal market" in teacher exchanges at schools throughout the city as part of a wide-ranging drive to remotivate teachers. The city is also examining the possibility of helping new teachers pay off their student debts to ensure that tuition fee charges do not put off well-qualified recruits from entering the profession.

George Gardner, the council's depute director of education, says action is necessary "to maximise the potential of all children and young people in the city by assuring a well-qualified, well-trained, and well-motivated workforce".

Willie Hart, Glasgow secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, described the proposals as "a mixture of the interesting, the intriguing and the impossible".

Mr Hart placed teacher exchanges within Glasgow in the "intriguing" category and felt they could be popular with teachers if the detail was acceptable. The criteria for access to the scheme as well as issues of primary-secondary exchanges were among the issues to be thrashed out, he added.

The council's plans for "high status and high standards" in teaching envisage the start of city-wide exchanges in a limited way from next session, but Mr Gardner stresses that the strategy is not aimed at teachers who are struggling. Teachers "must be professionally motivated and cannot view the scheme as an escape route. Nor can headteachers regard the scheme as a route for moving, even for a temporary period, an inadequate member of staff."

Other proposals in the wide-ranging package include an extension of teachers' probation from two to three years, and an increase in the school year to provide time for staff development. But Mr Hart says the EIS is sceptical about a move to three years of probation because it was widely felt that the authorities cannot adequately support the current two-year period. There is outright opposition to extending the school year.

Mr Hart also pointed out that such a change - and others including the streamlining of promoted posts in secondary schools, more support for primary school managements and revised salary structures - requires to be negotiated nationally between unions and management.

Mr Gardner's report, which was before the education committee yesterday, also proposes the creation of a new category of "general studies" teacher in secondary schools to provide absence cover across subject departments. They would be permanent members of staff known to the pupils, thus avoiding the deployment of a series of different temporary teachers during absences.

But this proposal, too, is dependent on outside consent, this time the approval of the General Teaching Council.

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