I have recently been interviewing all the assistant principal teachers and senior teachers at Kilsyth Academy. The starting point of our discussions was the fact that from August they will no longer have the same jobs. Their posts disappear under the post-McCrone agreement. I was able to reassure each that their salary would be conserved.
My next task was to ask what they intended to do. The options, as identified by our local authority, are to continue doing the work, to apply for a new principal teacher post, to begin studying for the chartered teacher qualification or simply to take the money and revert to being a normal class teacher. Their decisions are not a commitment and each can change their mind at any time.
Not surprisingly, many perfectly reasonable questions rose during our discussions. Unfortunately, I had almost no answers to give them, nor could I refer them to a better qualified source than me.
My response ran something like this: "I have to formulate a new promoted post structure in consultation with all staff. To do this I need to know the cost of each new post. The cost will be identified by the job-sizing tool kit, which will be available at the earliest in March, if it works.
"The staffing exercise for the 2003-04 session was completed in the first week in February.
"I don't know what modules there are in the chartered teacher programme, nor how much they will cost, nor what point on the scale will relate to each module, nor who will pay for them.
"I don't know if there will be a principal teacher post in your subject area. I know that other authorities are moving APT posts straight to PT posts but North Lanarkshire is not."
By the time I had explained all this, the teachers began to have some sympathy for my position, although a couple did mention that since I will retire in 2005 I was particularly lucky.
Meanwhile, information has been received about our authority's premature retirement plans, with further details of winding down and of actuarially reduced pension arrangements. I have no information about the likelihood of the five staff who have indicated they want early retirement getting it.
Each one will require to be replaced in some way and if anyone within the school gets the golden handshake our problems will be even greater.
I would like to be able to maintain, or even enhance, the guidance within the school from August. In the last great leap forward in promoted staff structures, I followed the route of having a PT and six APTs of guidance.
Our PT retires, due to age, in August. The APTs are reluctant to continue voluntarily with their guidance duties, although three would apply for the PT post if the remit seemed appropriate.
Until the job-sizing tool kit is available, I have no idea of the cost of any post, hence I cannot begin to set up a new structure.
Annex B ofthe agreement states that all teachers have pastoral duties and I know some schools are taking from this that all teachers will be guidance teachers. While this may seem tempting, I wonder if a reluctant guidance teacher would be of much help to a child with problems.
Our system for senior management at Kilsyth Academy is to rotate remits regularly so that over time each individual will gain experience of the whole range of management tasks required in a modern school. The job-sizing exercise is a snapshot of the remits as they existed in September.
It is possible that one assistant headteacher may, according to the job-sizing tool kit, have a bigger job than the others and hence receive a higher salary. If so, we will need to examine the remits for next session to ensure that all the deputes have the same size of job, apart from the existing depute, who will have to be more equal than the others.
How did we get into this mess? Who voted for the post-McCrone agreement? I can find no one who admits to it.
John Mitchell is headteacher of Kilsyth Academy, North LanarkshireIf you have any comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org