Turmoil hits independents

7th April 2000 at 01:00
AS ONE WEST of Scotland independent school announced this week that it is to close, another is embroiled in a damaging dispute with teachers over reorganisation.

Keil School in Dumbarton, with 174 senior boarding and day pupils, and 45 in a junior unit in Helensburgh, blames the unpopularity of boarding among parents for the decision to close in June. Andrew Mackinnon, chairman of the trust overseeing the school, which has 33 teachers, said: "It is an extremely emotional time for everyone. We have been fighting to keep the school running economically for a number of years."

The pressure on pupil numbers has also led the new headteacher at Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow to impose a controversial restructuring of the school as part of "an agenda for the future". John Broadfoot is combining departments into five faculties, and teachers fear for their jobs.

The school, which went co-

educational when he became head a year ago, has 520 pupils and is aiming for 600. Any change, he says, "brings difficulties and some unpleasantess", but he argues that it is necessary because "we have got to be at the sharp edge".

Principal teachers who have seen colleagues lower down the ladder appointed head of faculty are aggrieved, especially since there is no guaranteed conservation of salary. In addition, Mr Broadfoot is understood to be seeking seven or eight redundancies.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, the largest union at Kelvinside, is taking up the case of members. David Eaglesham, its general secretary, said:

"We are advising them, individually and as a group." Possible redundancy terms have already been improved under union pressure.

Mr Broadfoot said that the faculty structure - with four subject groupings and a guidance faculty - is akin to what the Headteachers Association of Scotland has suggested to the national McCrone inquiry into pay and conditions. The school, "which has a very good future", depended on small classes to appeal to parents and the new structure reflected the changing needs in teaching and learning.

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