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Directors split on posts freeze

A MOVE by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland to adopt a common approach to advertising promoted posts during the post-McCrone negotiations has broken down.

Councils sticking to the agreement now fear they could lose staff. Christine Pollock, depute director of education in North Lanarkshire, and co-ordinator of the ADES personnel network, said it had been agreed councils should not "undermine each other" during the period of local discussions on McCrone. The ADES approach was based on advertising as permanent positions only jobs that had been filled in an acting capacity before April this year and would have lasted for at least 23 months.

"It was felt that since these posts would be conserved anyway, they could be advertised as permanent. Promoted jobs coming up after April 1 would only be advertised on an acting basis."

Michael O'Neill, director of education in North Lanarkshire, said he would be surprised if councils did not apply a temporary freeze on posts such as those of senior teacher and assistant principal teacher.

"Common sense dictates that there is no point in filling posts that may cease to exist," Mr O'Neill said. But he acknowledged that there were circumstances where some permanent posts might be necessary.

Ken Wimbor, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, attacked the ADES position, claiming that itwas "disingenuous" for councils to link the job freeze to McCrone. "This has nothing to do with McCrone. There is nothing in the McCrone agreement that requires posts to be filled on an acting basis. Councils applying the freeze are being disingenuous."

Mr Wimbor added: "The thrust of McCrone is to introduce a degree of stability and this is doing exactly the opposite."

He said that a number of authorities were already breaking ranks and continuing to advertise promoted posts on a permanent basis. He agreed that those councils that continue to adhere to the advice could lose staff to other authorities Aberdeenshire, which is still advertising permanent posts, stipulates that these will be the subject of job-sizing in line with the teachers' settlement.

West Lothian is currently advertising acting posts only. Tony Gavin, head of St Margaret's Academy in Livingston, said that while a national approach depended on everybody "toeing the line" there would be great pressure on councils to break ranks.

Mr Gavin said that local shortages could be created in some subject areas or made worse. Two teachers at St Margaret's are currently considering applying for permanent posts in other authorities.

"There is great uncertainty and a climate of insecurity at the moment. Change is welcome, but there is uncertainty about how it is to be managed," Mr Gavin said.

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