Job-sizing has left guidance teachers facing a 'catastrophic' fall in morale and earnings, reports David Henderson
Many guidance teachers have found their posts devalued by up to pound;5,000, leaving them far behind principal teachers of specific subjects, a survey has revealed.
They are adding their anger about the process and outcome of the national job-sizing exercise to the campaign of headteachers and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and demanding fair treatment in the rankings after a PricewaterhouseCoopers' roughing-up across the country.
Terry Ashton, an adviser in Aberdeen, said: "If the job-sizing exercise is not seriously re-examined, the future of guidance in Aberdeen and throughout Scotland is in real and serious danger.
"The incentive to apply for guidance posts will be very low at the salary levels allocated to posts. For the dwindling number who are likely to apply for guidance posts, salaries in other parts of Scotland are likely to be more attractive than those in Aberdeen."
Mr Ashton's spot survey among ten local authorities reveals similar tales of misery and woe among guidance staff, with significant and unexplained differences between teachers in the same school and neighbouring secondaries. Some teachers are doing identical jobs but are placed on different points. "We are looking at a potential disaster," one Aberdeenshire principal teacher said.
In East Dunbartonshire, almost all guidance staff were downgraded and morale is said to have "crashed".
The survey shows that in Glasgow, guidance PTs in one school were sized two points above those in the similar school next door. In another, three PTs were sized at points 4, 3 and 1. "One large school had mainly 4s and 5s: subject PTs were sized at points 6-8," Mr Ashton notes in his report.
In South Lanarkshire, one PT commented: "It looks very bad news for guidance." Another said: "I think the results could have catastrophic effects on morale and relationships."
Guidance staff in Aberdeen describe the job-sizing exercise as "ill-conceived" and the salary levels as "unfair and unrealistic".
Mr Ashton, a key figure in the Scottish Guidance Association, says the job-sizing toolkit was neither relevant nor appropriate to guidance teachers and was more obviously designed to cover heads of department. None of the initial concerns of guidance teachers was addressed, he maintains.
"It seems obvious that the tool-kit must be seriously flawed, otherwise it would not have given results which are totally out of step with common sense and people's perceptions throughout the country. It certainly does not have face validity," he says.
Mr Ashton contends that guidance is a core activity which supports students and helps schools meet the national priorities and social inclusion targets. "It is also crucial in helping young people make personal choices in life, in relation to the curriculum, career, personal values, health, relationship and personal action and in helping them to be and become active citizens," he says.
"Without guidance, many more of our young people would flounder, underachieve or have serious personal difficulties," he adds.
But Loretta Scott, a fellow adviser in guidance in Glasgow, last month detailed a different direction in an article for The TES Scotland, calling for teachers to "let go" of present structures. Next month, Glasgow is launching a new format of first-line guidance in which all teachers will be expected to pick up responsibility for small groups of pupils with the backing of smaller numbers of full-time pastoral care staff.