Staff at Ashcraig School in Glasgow are likely to launch a formal grievance claim after failing to stop a primary trained teacher being appointed as head to what they insist is a secondary school. The council says it is a special school and falls under different rules.
But staff have not protested about the acting head who is also primary trained and applied for the job.
The teachers' anxieties have drawn in the General Teaching Council after members of the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association claimed Carol Jackson should not have been considered for the head's post. She is due to take up the job after the Christmas holidays following several months of simmering discontent.
Ivor Sutherland, GTC registrar, visited the school yesterday (Thursday) and told staff the appointment was "professionally inappropriate".
He told The TES Scotland: "The school does Standard grades and Highers, has principal teachers and to all intents and purposes is a secondary school. From the professional point of view, I think the staff may have a case."
Mrs Jackson is currently on secondment in Inverclyde as special education adviser after being in charge of Glenburn School in Greenock, an all-through school for pupils with moderate learning difficulties. She was head for over five years.
Ken Corsar, Glasgow's director of education, insists the council has not broken any law or regulation and has checked thoroughly the head's credentials. "Ashcraig is clearly a special school, is listed as a special school and is staffed as a special school. You can come from either primary or secondary, so long as you have your qualification in special education," he said.
Mr Corsar said the head was well qualified, had all the certificates, including one in guidance for secondary education, and had been head of the Greenock school, which took in secondary education.
But Willie Hart, EIS local secretary, said it was "quite ridiculous" to suggest the school was anything other than a secondary which had to be led by a secondary trained head. Staff were virtually all secondary qualified and taught the full S1-S6 curriculum. "A recent HMI report said it should be more organised like a secondary," he said.
Craig Duncan, SSTA depute general secretary, admitted it was "a grey area with plenty of precedent of primary trained people being employed in special schools". The union has pressed the council to make future job specifications clearer.
The Association of Head Teachers in Scotland, Mrs Jackson's union, has given her its full backing after taking legal advice. Jim Smith, AHTS secretary, said: "We support the appointment wholeheartedly and believe her qualifications cover the situation of the special school."
Mrs Jackson declined to comment. She was previously assistant head of Richmond Park School, a primary feeder for Ashcraig. The school is targeted at children with physical disabilities and serious medical conditions.