Rookies face a struggle without the older hands

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
Younger and more inexperienced secondary teachers often have nowhere to turn to for advice on their subject now that local authorities have removed their principal teachers, MSPs were told on Wednesday.

Senior officials of both the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association claim that such management restructuring formed no part of the post-McCrone agreement and that authorities are to blame for tagging it on to the job-sizing exercise.

Drew Morrice, EIS assistant secretary, said: "Pastoral and curricular support that previously existed has largely disappeared from Scottish education."

Principal teachers were being removed and departments joined up, leaving younger teachers without their traditional support mechanisms. Mr Morrice said that with advisers now being turned into quality improvement officers, whose role was to challenge departments, there was no one to call on for advice.

David Eaglesham, the SSTA's general secretary, said that many councils were establishing principal teacher posts across subjects with no curricular coherence, such as mathematics and home economics, or music and technological studies.

Mr Eaglesham accepted that more experienced colleagues could offer support on discipline and approaches to teaching but detailed questions about subjects were a different matter. Younger teachers were looking for very particular help, usually from a principal teacher subject.

"The second problem is probably worse," Mr Eaglesham said. "It is where the person who is left with the responsibility of doing all the practical subject-related work is an unpromoted teacher.

"They are asked to become a surrogate principal teacher every day without being paid and without that being recognised. We come back whole circle to all the equal pay cases . . . this is not now equal pay for work of equal value."

It was important that a management structure should offer advice, support and correction to teachers and that lay in middle management. Some teachers, he suggested, were giving up because they did not have the level of support they needed.

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