Plans to link heads

27th June 2008 at 01:00
Radical changes to children's services in the Borders mooted
Radical changes to children's services in the Borders mooted

The primary school in the Borders where the late Irene Hogg was the headteacher is to be linked with a neighbouring primary under one head. And all primary headteachers in the authority are to be non-teaching.

These are among a string of radical proposals in what the council calls "an exciting and hugely important project" to transform children's services. It insists there is no connection between these plans and the death of Msis Hogg, who is thought to have committed suicide in March following a visit to her school by inspectors. Their report was published this week (p3).

Glenn Rodger, director of education and lifelong learning with Scottish Borders Council, stressed they had been working on these proposals for 18 months.

Miss Hogg's school, Glendinning Terrace Primary in Galashiels, will share its head with Balmoral Primary in the town, if the proposals are given the go-ahead after a 19-week public "engagement process", which runs until October 27. There is said to be a cultural and social synergy between the two schools.

The longer-term plan is to merge between eight and 12 "old and unfit-for-purpose schools" in the larger Borders towns, replacing them with between four and six larger, state-of-the-art schools.

Seven heads already run more than one school, and the plans envisage extending this so that just 42 heads would manage all 65 primaries.

The council believes this would make it easier for those heads to concentrate on management instead of, as at present, half of Borders schools having heads who are also class teachers.

These dual pressures were said to be among the factors which Ms Hogg found increasingly stressful. The council's Ambitious for Every Child report acknowledges this: "The current position of teaching heads is untenable. It places too high a burden on individuals and can diminish the quality of their own class's learning experience."

Other features of the shake-up include:

- combining additional support needs under the director of social work;

- establishing six learning communities to ensure closer working between primary and secondary schools;

- making principal teachers in primaries and secondaries "leaders of learning" aligned to the themes in A Curriculum for Excellence;

- reducing depute head posts by nine to 21 in the nine secondaries, to reflect the increased management duties of PTs and the role of business managers.

The council believes these changes would reduce the number of managers in education. Teacher numbers would rise as staff are recruited to take on the classroom responsibilities of headteachers and principal teachers. The package is expected to achieve pound;1 million in immediate savings, half of which would come from the reduction in secondary depute posts.

To inspect - or not (p3).

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