Claims that the appointment of a school sport development manager in North Lanarkshire could lead to the dilution of physical education have been dismissed by the council.
The post, carrying a salary of Pounds 27,744, was due to be filled this week and is partly funded by the Scottish Sports Council. It will replace the PE adviser but at a salary Pounds 6,000 less. A seconded teacher has done the job for the past two years.
Principal teachers of PE, meeting last week, expressed concern that the post, combining sport and curricular PE, would damage the developing work in certificated physical education, especially at Higher grade where results are below other subjects. Teachers needed more support, not less, they agreed.
The council's budget squeeze has forced the council to reconsider its advisory service and co-funding the post with sports council. It will have teachers' conditions of service and APTC hours and leave.
Staff were told they could either have a two-day a week adviser, as geographers have, or the full-time post. Some said they would prefer the two-day adviser.
Michael O'Neill, director of education, rejected accusations that PE would suffer. "This post is all about combining the jobs of helping PE and sustaining sports development. It is good news for PE and sport in North Lanarkshire and I should point out we are specifying a promoted PE person for the post," he stated.
Mr O'Neill hoped teachers would regard it as a different kind of career development with an enhanced salary. At the end of the three-year trial, he hoped Lottery money would continue the initiative. "Both bodies hope this kind of joint funding arrangement will revitalise school sport and be a good deal for everyone," he said.
Drew Morrice, Educational Institute of Scotland local secretary, said the post was a consequence of budget cuts. "The test will be in the operation of the job," he said.
A spokesman for the Scottish Physical Education Association said it would have "some concern" if the initiative was being introduced because of financial constraints.
The association supports school sport growth but cautions that a "broad-based and well-supported PE curricular experience for all young people is a prerequisite for access to sports based opportunities".