Editor's comment

15th December 2006 at 00:00
Without clerical staff, ICT and lab technicians, outdoor instructors and librarians, schools would struggle to function. They all play a role which makes a school greater than the sum of its parts.

Teachers whose posts were downgraded under the job-sizing toolkit should sympathise with the plight of some of their non-teaching colleagues (p1).

In North Lanarkshire - and other authorities are not far behind - a number of employees are suffering a similar fate under the single status job evaluation exercise. In three years' time, their jobs will be moved down a grade, meaning that they will be paid less - in the case of outdoor instructors by Pounds 4,000-pound;5,000 a year.

North Lanarkshire Council has promised to review the downgraded posts before the cuts take effect in three years' time, so all is not lost.

Meanwhile, these staff will have had their morale dented with the knowledge that their bosses have decided they are worth less than they currently earn.

In the case of school librarians, the drift away from this all-graduate profession appears to have started already. They have appealed against their downgrading, aggrieved that their contribution to the education of pupils has not been recognised. With North Lanarkshire's rationalisation of services -putting education, culture and leisure into one department - community libraries will come under the same umbrella as schools, creating opportunities for closer working. But that will not necessarily mitigate the hurt felt by school librarians.

Not all groups are likely to face disadvantage. The prospects for classroom assistants are more optimistic, particularly as their pay and status are currently the subject of an investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

However, the picture across Scotland is likely to be a complex one. Not all authorities are using the same evaluation methodologies, and they are moving at different speeds as they work to protect themselves against expensive equal pay claims. Legislation which was intended to improve the lot of women workers may end up having the opposite effect.

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