Lib Dems back guidance

15th August 2003 at 01:00
PRINCIPAL teachers of guidance whose posts have been downgraded in the national job-sizing exercise are poised to win the unexpected support of the Liberal Democrat administration in Aberdeen.

The city would become the first authority to challenge what many critics believe is the unfair treatment of guidance staff in the post-McCrone shake-up.

Prominent secondary heads are also lining up behind disgruntled staff amid claims that recruitment to guidance and pupil support will be severely damaged because salaries for senior posts have been downgraded by more than pound;5,000 against subject principal teachers.

Fraser Sanderson, education director in Dumfries and Galloway and president of the directors' association, said: "There are some anomalies people are scratching their heads over."

Councils are split over their reaction to the outcome of the PricewaterhouseCoopers review but Aberdeen next month is set to demand a review of the processes that have severely damaged morale among guidance teachers. The education committee on September 2 is likely to back the call.

Pam MacDonald, education convener, said: "Any unfair comparisons are going to erode morale and that concerns me greatly."

Dr MacDonald believes dis-parities between one school and another and between authorities have to be ironed out and is calling for an investigation into the weightings given to some of the functions of guidance staff.

"It looks as though the instrument for job-sizing was defective and capricious in the way it turned up anomalies for people doing the same job," she said.

The city understands personal and social education responsibilities were counted in some councils and not others, while it argues that the weighting given to guidance work with other agencies was underestimated. It raised concerns about the transparency of the review last year and wrote to the Scottish Executive expressing its doubts.

Dr MacDonald said the new Liberal Democrat administration had promised in its election campaign to improve teacher morale and she was standing by that commitment.

Terry Ashton, a city adviser and key figure in the Scottish Guidance Association, forecast last month after a spot survey in 10 authorities that guidance would be in "real and serious danger" if the job-sizing exercise went ahead unchanged.

Neal McGowan, head of Banchory Academy, Aberdeenshire, who directed the national discipline task group, has added his concerns about the effects on guidance in a letter to The TES Scotland (opposite). "All five of the PTs of guidance in my school have had their salaries reduced to the lowest banding. What does that say to them and how does it encourage staff to pursue a route in guidance in the future?" he writes.

Rosemary McDonald, the head of St Aidan's High in Wishaw, has described the job-sizing toolkit as "gravely flawed". In an article for next week's TES Scotland, she criticises those who devised the toolkit as having "little understanding of the management needs of secondary schools".

In her own school, 20 of 29 posts were downgraded, 14 by pound;2,600 or more.

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