Don't sacrifice the sciences

10th February 2006 at 00:00
Massive damage is being done to our secondary science education system by the removal of probably the most important and motivated group of teachers in Scottish education, the principal teachers.

It has been suggested by one director of education that management structures in schools are a matter for the council and are not subject to negotiation with staff or unions. The rationale is clear, of course, given the significant costs savings involved by effectively consolidating principal teacher posts under related "curricular areas" (of the order of pound;200,000 a year in the staffing plan of a mid-sized school near me).

How this extends to the recent advertising of a post nailing CDT to S1-S2 science is beyond me. I could cynically suggest that the long-term game plan here is to decimate interest in the sciences, particularly physics, and thereby save future finance as well as short-term cash. Maybe not, but the suspicions are raised when obviously crazy things like this are happening.

It is right, of course, that public purse-holders should be looking to provide value for money and operate services efficiently. But it is an entirely different matter to bring about the crippling of our secondary science education system in the face of widespread concern. Senior managers ought to take note of this and school leaders, who really ought to know better (as they are, in principle, teachers themselves), should be among the loudest dissenters, instead of resorting to the weak political expediency of meek compliance.

Elsewhere, it is reported that headteachers are requiring class teachers to do SQA appeals, no longer done by the now gone PT. The pressures on class teachers can only increase, and cases of constructive dismissal are not far behind bullying by school managers to get the essential, but now unallocated, work done.

The debate should be much wider than it is, and it is about time the teaching profession in Scotland joined in a much more critical and open assessment of the long-term benefits or otherwise of this new management structure before very serious damage is done.

Robin Archer Teacher of physics

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