Growing fears over faculties

31st May 2013 at 01:00
Edinburgh's new management structure causes concern

Training has been launched in Edinburgh schools after teachers reported a litany of concerns about the city's new faculty structure, including a lack of expertise among staff to carry out their jobs.

The new secondary school management structure, introduced in August, meant that Edinburgh became the latest Scottish council to replace principal teachers (PTs) with fewer faculty heads in a bid to save pound;2.4 million a year.

But staff surveys, including one carried out by the council itself, have revealed that many new faculty heads, called "curricular leaders", lacked the time and expertise to carry out their duties.

Teaching staff at all levels expressed concern that many curricular leaders did not have the knowledge to lead all the subjects for which they were responsible. As a result, they said, class teachers were being forced to fulfil the PT role.

In another poll conducted by the EIS teaching union, one in 10 teachers said that they had been asked by their headteacher to become "subject leaders".

One commented: "The tasks I'm having to do to keep the department running smoothly are tasks I would consider to be a PT's remit."

Another said: "No extra time has been afforded for this, despite my doing a PT's job in essence."

The EIS survey also revealed that 90 per cent of curricular leaders said they had insufficient management time to carry out their new duties; more than 70 per cent said they had received no support to manage their faculty; and more than 80 per cent said that the new management structure had affected the implementation of the new curriculum "for worse".

In another damaging finding, 85 per cent said that the changes in the management structure had "disadvantaged pupils".

Edinburgh EIS local area secretary Alison Thornton branded the restructure "a money-saving exercise" and said that it could not have come at a worse time for staff, who are in the process of introducing the new curriculum and gearing up for the new National qualifications next year.

The union will be monitoring the situation, with another staff survey planned for next year, she added.

Edinburgh City Council began its review of secondary management structures in April 2011, a move that led to a third of middle-management posts being cut, with a total of 15 depute head posts and 139 principal teacher posts scrapped.

The changes were fully implemented in August last year, but surveys conducted by the EIS and the council a few months later - and reported today for the first time - reveal major worries.

In the council survey, staff were asked to highlight what was working well. Teachers and senior managers reported that the flatter structure meant closer links and communication with the senior management team, more natural links for interdisciplinary learning and more opportunities to share best practice.

But these positives were countered by major concerns. Staff called for curricular leaders to have more time to do the job and demanded subject- specific training for curricular leaders, whose new areas of responsibility included unfamiliar subjects.

The training was set to begin this month while students were away from school on exam leave.

The council said it was also monitoring any impact on workload and student attainment, alongside the teaching unions. It also requires all heads to allocate adequate management time to curricular leaders by August and all schools to review their behaviour management policies to reflect the reduced number posts.

Paul Godzik, Edinburgh City Council's education convener, said: "This has been a difficult process. However, I am very pleased at the way in which officers and teaching unions are working jointly to address concerns."

Key numbers

Staffing at Edinburgh's Boroughmuir High before and after the implementation of the council's review of secondary management structures:

Structure prior to implementation

- 16 principal teachers (subject)

- 6 principal teachers (guidance)

- 1 principal teacher (support for learning)

- 3 depute headteachers

- 1 senior depute headteacher

- 1 headteacher

Structure after implementation

- 11 curriculum leaders

- 4 pupil support leaders

- 1 support for learning leader

- 3 depute headteachers

- 1 headteacher.

Original headline: Concern grows over Edinburgh's faculty structure

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