Faculty heads short on genius

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
Leonardo da Vinci may have mastered art, technological education and science, but mere mortals such as subject principal teachers can't, according to the headteacher of an award-winning secondary.

Carole Ford, head of Kilmarnock Academy, wants the steady trend towards faculty heads stopped before further damage is done. Writing in this month's edition of Teaching Scotland, the magazine of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Mrs Ford argues that there are no educational grounds for the erosion of single-subject principal teachers. This was not part of the post-McCrone agreement, she points out.

"There are financial reasons for a reduction in promoted posts, there are managerial reasons, particularly if we want symmetry between the primary and secondary sectors, but there is no sound educational reason for combining subjects and dispensing with the single subject PT," she states.

In the past, faculty heads have worked well but only with the support of assistant principal teachers who effectively ran the department. These posts are no longer there.

Mrs Ford's school was shortlisted twice in the recent Scottish Education Awards and went on to pick up the national award for raising basic standards.

She argues that there should always be a place for the "slightly obsessive subject expert" who regards all other subjects as surplus to requirement but who nevertheless delivers quality teaching and learning. "These are the people currently running our top performing departments," she says.

"People management skills, administrative skills and organisational skills are generic, subject expertise is not. Roll back this tide."

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