Guidance teachers take Executive to task

MEMBERS of the Scottish Guidance Association, given the chance to question one of the key figures in the post-McCrone negotiations at their annual conference last week, made the most of the opportunity.

Following an address by Fergus Millan of the Scottish Executive, guidance teachers from across Scotland vented their concerns about the omission of guidance's role from the McCrone report, the lack of a national policy, the disappearance of assistant principal guidance posts and general uncertainty about the future of guidance.

Mr Millan urged them to submit their concerns to the forthcoming review of guidance following the Better Behaviour, Better Learning report on discipline. Alex Edwardson, principal teacher of guidance at Dumbarton Academy and president of the SGA, welcomed the review and hoped it would produce clear national guidelines.

One solution to the "disappearing" APT posts which would retain the experience and expertise of guidance teachers would be to follow the example of the former Grampian Region, Terry Ashton, guidance adviser in Aberdeen, said.

Mr Ashton told The TES Scotland that Grampian had phased out APT posts over five to six years, and replaced them with principal teachers. "It worked well," he said, "and there are not really big resource implications because you end up with fewer guidance teachers overall but with an increase in guidance time. It is worth thinking about."

A principal teacher from an east of Scotland school, who did not wish to be named, said guidance teachers were being "strait-jacketed into a target-setting, attainment-oriented agenda", and the pastoral element of her job was at risk. "I should be earning my keep as a professionally trained, GTC-registered, trained counsellor with a diploma in pastoral care," she said.

"It is important that I have a full pastoral role as a teacher. There is an added value that a teacher can bring to issues such as anti-bullying and peer support, helping to empower pupils and get them to help each other."

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