City of good shepherds

21st February 2003 at 00:00
ALL class teachers in Glasgow secondaries will be expected from August to become your friendly, understanding and knowledgeable first-line pupil counsellor. Unions and the city have signed up to an agreement that is likely to set the pattern across the country.

Staff will be offered special training in pastoral care - the new term - as the city phases out traditional guidance structures. All probationers will go through a mandatory training module.

The city's plans have taken nine months to emerge through sometimes bitter opposition and emphasise that first-level pastoral care will be delivered primarily by student tutors, who will be assigned a group of pupils.

Principal teachers will manage the process.

Glasgow points out that many schools already have similar systems based on register classes or tutor support groups but these roles will diminish as swipe cards replace attendance checks and school meal tickets. The city spells out five key areas for class teachers:

* Personal support for each pupil.

* Curriculum support, relevant to the individual's needs.

* Vocational advice to help with the transition to adult life.

* Voluntary involvement in programmes of personal and social education.

* Contributions to a positive school ethos, promoting self-esteem.

Under the vocational support banner, teachers would be expected to encourage pupils to attend careers exhibitions, be aware of work-experience schedules and be prepared to answer questions on careers "as class teachers have always done".

On personal support, they might collect absence notes from parents, alert the principal teacher to health matters and be aware of child protection issues.

George Gardner, depute director of education, said the vast majority of primary teachers already carried out similar duties and it was clear that annex B of the national agreement laid out the responsibilities of all classroom and chartered teachers.

"We are not defining a structure as such: there is a pupil entitlement and how that is delivered will depend on individual circumstances. This agreement is an example of effective joint working between the management side and teachers' side," Mr Gardner said.

Each secondary will review its structures by the end of next month and then create a pupil support team. Full-time principal teacher posts are one option because of the extra caseloads and management tasks involved.

Assistant principal teachers, who traditionally delivered much of the guidance advice, will shortly lose their posts but Glasgow comments: "There is no reason why staff already trained and experienced in guidance work should not continue to undertake enhanced pastoral care work after August where no management tasks are expected."

In a sop to existing APTs and senior teachers, new principal teacher pastoral care posts will be ring-fenced for them.

A further development is a new concept of "project leadership" for staff with management ambitions. Unpromoted teachers, including assistant principal and senior teachers, would opt into management duties as part of their continuing professional development.

"This is not a backdoor way to get guidance done but an upfront way to get staff interested in management," Mr Gardner insisted.

Willie Hart, Educational Institute of Scotland local secretary, welcomed the clarification of the core class teacher duties on pastoral care. "They are not vastly different from those of a traditional conscientious register teacher and they are not the management tasks of the guidance teacher.

Nobody is expected to do all these things all of the time," Mr Hart said.

He will advise members that only certain tasks would be undertaken in the time available, normally 10 minutes in the morning. Support for the policy would be reviewed if schools were trying to get guidance on the cheap, he warned.

Ken Cunningham, the secondary heads' spokesman, said: "There is a clearer way forward but it will take some time for any new system to bed down because of uncertainties around job sizing and the age profile of current promoted staff.

"If there is not supportive funding from the Scottish Executive, it will take longer."

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