Senior posts shake-up starts a year early

MELDRUM ACADEMY, the new Aberdeenshire secondary that opens in August, could set the McCrone mould and become the first to pare down senior management posts and introduce curriculum managers instead of principal teachers - a year ahead of the rest of Scotland.

The council's education committee was yesterday (Thursday) due to approve proposals that would see around eight curriculum managers with a maximum half-time teaching commitment replacing around 18 principal teachers of subject, and an extended pastoral team replacing guidance staff.

An enhanced central support team would ease administrative burdens across the school, relieving class teachers of paperwork.

There will be only three senior members of staff for the projected 1,000-pupil secondary - Andy Sutherland, the head, and two deputes. If the model works, elements may be incorporated into other secondaries once the national job-sizing exercise is completed next year and a local task group concludes its review of management structures and the curriculum.

West Lothian has already run into union opposition over a similar scheme but Alan Findlay, Liberal Democrat education convener in Aberdeenshire, remains optimistic the Meldrum structure will proceed after further talks over the number of curriculum managers. Mr Findlay has pledged to involve unions in monitoring progress.

Unions are cautious and remain conscious that staff have to be recruited quickly to the new school. Albert McKay, local secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, said: "We would be looking at Meldrum as a one-off and we don't want the authority on the coat-tails of this to use the model as a template for every other secondary in Aberdeenshire."

Jack Barnett, Educational Institute of Scotland local secretary, said that he was "unhappy with the existing proposals" and would be talking further about the promoted post structure.

Mr Findlay, a member of the management side in the McCrone talks, accepts the Meldrum proposal will not be replicated exactly in other schools, yet is adamant there is an imperative.

"It is absolutely explicit in McCrone that there would be flatter management structures. That is not in dispute," he insists.

Under a plan drawn up by the head and a council task group with union involvement, there would be eight curriculum teams - communication, numeracy, creative, health, modern foreign languages, pure sciences, human sciences, and business and technology.

The five pastoral team managers - effectively full-time guidance staff - would not be subject-committed, although they would be expected to teach the entire personal and social education programme. They would work with two behaviour support staff.

Mr Sutherland says the general support team could remove much of the "sometimes excessive administrative burden" that guidance staff deal with regularly. A fourth "equal status team" would focus on social inclusion and lifelong learning under an integration manager.

Aberdeenshire estimates there would be few additional staffing costs since posts are being rejigged rather than added to. Scottish Executive cash may cover the extra technical and clerical support.

Leader, page 24

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