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Axed posts creep back

Promoted posts created through the back door in secondary schools could undermine the teachers' agreement, the second progress report on the 2001 deal has found.

The Teachers' Agreement Communications (TAC) team, set up to monitor the way the agreement is proceeding, says there is evidence that new principal teacher and senior depute posts are being introduced because the shake-up in management has swept away key promoted staff.

The report says that "PT (development)" posts, usually on point 1 of the salary scale, have been offered on a temporary basis to take forward particular pieces of work or as a permanent position.

It also found that a number of schools have continued with a formal or senior depute headteacher, while others, despite adopting a flatter senior management team structure, continue to have a "de facto" senior depute.

"If these types of posts continue to proliferate, there is a risk that another level of promoted posts will re-establish itself in the system,"

the authors warn.

"If structures become so lean that they cannot respond to new initiatives, some authorities and schools may have to review their overall structure policy rather than have an increasing number of posts which are not in fact part of the new career structure."

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers'

Association, suggests that the obvious need for some schools and authorities to create new posts shows that restructuring is not working.

The report did find that, where restructuring had been "relatively inflexible, compulsory and quick, there was some evidence of lingering anxiety about the whole change process". Where there was a more collegiate approach, there was greater acceptance of changes among staff.

The key is "clear lines of communication at all levels, between local authority and headteachers, and in turn between HTs and the teachers within their school". This led to trust and respect during the consultation process and good staff relationships which had allowed a smooth transition.

The report also suggests a series of possible roles for chartered teachers. These include the development of learning and teaching across the school, mentoring probationers and newly qualified teachers, and the development of formative assessment.

However, it acknowledges that headteachers are unclear about how to involve chartered teachers in the improvement agenda against their wishes. "There were some minor issues too about some candidates' suitability given that they self-select for the programme," the report states.

Mr Eaglesham warned that any attempt to make chartered teachers take on management functions would be reminiscent of the 1980s when the post of senior teacher was created to reflect excellence in classroom practice.

Despite the intention, the post then became part of the promoted post hierarchy.

The report is the second snapshot review by the TAC team of progress towards restructuring, the first having been published two years ago.

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