An evaluation of a school which set up faculty structures in 2003 found that current promoted staff were very positive about their experience of the new structure.
However, they counselled that restructuring should not be taken in isolation from other policies such as continuous monitoring of discipline, staff-pupil relationships and headteacher leadership. The next stage of the evaluation will involve former principal teachers who are still part of the school.
The advice from the new heads of faculties was: "If and when other schools were introducing faculties, they should not lose sight of the dignity of those serving PTs who choose not to apply for, or were unsuccessful in applying for, a post of PT in a faculty."
The report states: "The very strong message communicated to us was that the former principal teachers who remained on the staff had given 'superb'
co-operation to the faculty principals. Instances of awkward relationships had been few and far between. For the most part, the former PTs had 'simply got on with the job'.
"They willingly took on tasks, for example in developing units of work and overseeing the subject requisition, and put their expertise to good use, especially in their professed subject. Most of them continued to represent the school at subject group meetings."
The impact on teachers was said to be broadly positive, in spite of some initial uncertainty. Teachers who had previously worked in small departments now had access to a wider range of professional advice, support and expertise, and more opportunities to be involved in curriculum development.
The changes also led to regular, planned faculty meetings which forged "a sense of partnership among staff and greater consistency in approach to, for instance, homework". Teachers were assuming a greater responsibility for course programmes, resources and learning and teaching styles.
What's in it for the kids?
From interviews with the headteacher, two deputes and four principal teachers of the secondary under scrutiny, the TAC team reported that staff felt pupils had benefited from restructuring in a number of ways:
* Joint planning among staff led to a greater consistency of approach in matters such as classroom management, discipline, homework and approaches to learning and teaching.
* Fresh opportunities for project-based learning through better collaboration between subjects.
* Pupils' experiences were less fragmented and they could see more clearly the connections between subjects.
* Pupils' attainment across different subjects was being tracked more readily and underachievement identified more easily.
* The staff had had a head start in the decluttering exercise involved in A Curriculum for Excellence because teachers of different subjects within the faculty could remove duplication and overlap of syllabus content.
* There were strong links between staff in faculties and staff who had responsibility for learning support, behaviour support and pastoral support.