Aberdeen directorate hit by row over posts

23rd February 1996 at 00:00
Primary and nursery headteachers in Aberdeen have launched a fierce broadside against the city's unitary authority over the absence from the directorate of any senior official with a primary background.

The deletion of a post at assistant director level, which heads hoped would have gone to someone with primary experience, was a cost-cutting measure, according to the council. Heads say the saving is a mere pound;41,445 and they want the post reinstated.

Iain Smithers, headteacher of Cults primary and chairman of Aberdeen Association of Nursery and Primary Heads, said: "Primary heads are being asked to do more and more with less and less and if you are not represented at the top table when strategy and resources are being decided you get overlooked. It as simple as that."

In its letter to the council the association, which represents 72 schools, revives the strong sensitivities about the disadvantages primary schools feel in relation to secondaries. The heads stress that the primary sector is not "a mere precursor" to post-11 education.

The letter adds: "In order to sustain growth and development in the nurseryprimary sector it is paramount that strong quality leadership based on grounded experience is in place at the highest level of management.

"This structure would demonstrate the authority's commitment to nursery and primary education. In our view, if such representation is not in place there is a risk of alienation of the nurseryprimary sector."

John Stodter, Aberdeen's director of education, points out, however, that the post would have covered "implementation, review and development". The council was being pressed by the unions to make cuts at senior level to avoid reductions in junior posts, Mr Stodter said. "That was found to be a persuasive argument."

He would be holding discussions with heads next week on how responsibility for the primary sector should be allocated. But the director said there was a misunderstanding over the way in which the city's education department would operate. "It is a fundamentally flawed concept that there is to be a top table. The management structure will include heads, education officers and advisers not just senior members of the directorate."

The authority has established primary education officer and principal officer (0-8) posts. Heads propose that these jobs could be removed at a saving of more than pound;60,000 and their duties allocated to the more senior post of assistant director.

Ironically, Douglas Paterson, the council's chief executive, who was Grampian's previous director of education and a former primary teacher.

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