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Dundee teachers reject controversial school ‘faculty’ plans

Union says faculties in schools will lead to the loss of specialist subject teachers

Dundee teachers reject controversial school ‘faculty’ plans

Secondary teachers in Dundee have decisively rejected proposals for the introduction of a “faculty structure” in the authority’s secondary schools.

A ballot organised by the EIS teaching union, which closed today, resulted in 92 per cent of teachers rejecting the proposals, on a 72 per cent turnout.

Faculties – where several subjects are banded together – have become increasingly popular in Scotland in recent years, even though there have been concerns about them for many years.

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Supporters argue that it makes sense for different subjects to work more closely together, but opponents say that the move is driven by cost-cutting as it means fewer promoted posts, with one faculty head typically operating where several principal subject teachers might have existed before.

Even education secretary John Swinney has previously expressed concerns that faculties dilute pupils’ learning and lead to weaker leadership.

In 2016, West Dunbartonshire school staff took rare strike action after rejecting a new deal over cuts to principal teacher posts.

Dundee EIS local association secretary David Baxter said: “This is an overwhelming rejection of Dundee Council’s faculty plans by secondary teachers. Our members have grave concerns about the council’s proposals and the impact that they will have on secondary education in Dundee.

“By voting in huge numbers against these proposals, Dundee’s teachers have made their feelings abundantly clear – it is time for the council to think again on these damaging proposals.”

Mr Baxter added: “Evidence from other areas where faculties have been introduced confirms that this model of school structure has a negative impact on pupils and teachers alike. The loss of the experience and expertise of subject specialist principal teachers removes a vital layer of support, with serious implications for learning and teaching.

“This model also brings substantial workload implications for teachers – with additional duties inevitably falling on already overworked class teachers in many subject areas.”

Mr Baxter said that the union would contact Dundee City Council, and would be “urging them to rethink these proposals”.

He added: “The planned moved to faculties has no educational merit, and that is why it has been so resoundingly rejected by Dundee’s teachers.”

After the result was announced this afternoon, Tes Scotland contacted Dundee City Council for a response.

A spokeswoman would only say: "This is a decision that has been taken by the council, that we are discussing with the trade unions."

The issue was also discussed today at the annual conference of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association.

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