New grading for guidance is unfair

4th July 2003 at 01:00
The recent release of the "job-sizing" exercise throughout Scotland has demonstrated one of the most unfair and incompetent processes that could have been imposed on any profession at any time. Such is the incredibility of the results, I cannot really believe that a revision is not inevitable.

The differentials found between subject principal teachers within and between secondary schools are impossible to understand and, even if they were explained , the rationale used may in many cases be quite different come August.

The main concern I have, however, is the way in which our principal teachers of guidance have been treated. In Moray, for instance, seven of the eight secondary schools have their principal guidance posts graded at level one, with the remaining one at level two. My contacts with other education authorities have indicated a similar trend.

What does a principal guidance teacher have to do to be rated at a higher level? If it is having responsibility for assistant principal teachers of guidance, that criterion disappears in August. If it is having responsibility for a budget, that can change with a rearrangement of remit.

My own school situation may not be untypical. It was very clear during the job-sizing exercise that guidance was not in a position to "do well". The questions just did not allow it. The toolkit was inappropriate.

Despite our union representatives' attendance, the completed forms were submitted with little faith, and indeed in some cases were unsigned.

Naively, I did not really think such blatant inequality was possible. How wrong I was.

This guidance team is the same one which had its work identified as a major strength by HMI earlier this year; the same one which teaches social and vocational skills to all the S3 and S4 cohorts and manages 11 tutors in personal and social education; the same one which supports the authority's inclusion policy and which involves itself with the outside agencies to help maintain youngsters in full-time education; the same one which supplies sporting, cultural and social support for almost all extracurricular activities throughout the school.

Finally, this is the same team which, on the very day after receiving news of its new "worth", spent 10 minutes discussing the news and the remaining 45 on ways to improve the primary 7 day next year by running extra activities for the pupils during their lunch break. I rest my case.

Please, will those who can revisit this toolkit and integrate processes which allow common sense and fairness to prevail?

Graham Milne (soon to be depute but proud to be known as assistant head guidance) Elgin Academy

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