Acting head of Gaelic primary school stands down after being denied full-time job

THE acting head of a flagship Gaelic school has stood down after being refused the full-time job of headteacher following a row she was not fluent in the language.

• Annika Jansson was the only candidate for the job, but cannot speak Gaelic

• Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis has been without a headteacher for over two years

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Annika Jansson was the sole candidate for the £48,000-a-year post at the £4million Inverness primary – but there was an outcry from parents because she could not speak Gaelic.

The interview process was completed on Monday, with the panel of three councillors and three parents deciding not to fill the post.

Ms Jansson then informed Highland Council she would not be returning to the school and requested to be redeployed.

Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis has now been without a permanent headteacher for 27 months.

Union chiefs hit out, claiming the process had not been fair, particularly as Ms Jansson had been revealed in public as the sole applicant.

The local authority must now apply – for the eighth time – for a new headteacher.

In a letter to parents of the 169-pupil school, area education manager Clifford Cooke said: “As Ms Jansson was not appointed, I have agreed that she will be, at her request, redeployed elsewhere within the Inverness area.

“I am currently making arrangements for this to take place as soon as possible.

“In terms of the Head Teacher post, the authority will now start the recruitment process once again. The Parent Council will be appropriately involved in the process for the permanent position.

“In the meantime, I am liaising with a number of people to decide the best temporary solution for the continued smooth running of the school.

“The school staff are aware that they can contact this office for any support in this interim period.

“I do take this opportunity to thanks Ms Jansson most sincerely for the hard work and dedication she has shown to both the school and community whilst undertaking this acting position. I wish her well in her future career.”

But Andrew Stewart, secretary of the Highland branch of the EIS teaching union said: “This individual teacher has been put in a near impossible position.

“The manner in which It became public knowledge that not only was she an applicant, but was indeed the only applicant, was outrageous.

“Nobody should have had to face that in what is supposed to be a professional selection process.

“On top of that it was also widely known ahead of the meeting, that the parents on the selection panel were going to vote against her regardless of how well the interview went, because she was not a fluent Gaelic speaker or literate in the language.”

He added: “It is up to Highland Council to ensure that a highly qualified senior teacher, who helped the authority by standing in as acting head on a term by term basis for over two years, is now given an appropriate position.

“It is already increasingly difficult to get candidates to apply for mainstream head teacher jobs, particularly in the primary sector where they often have to combine teaching duties with their management role.

“Obviously if only fluent Gaelic speakers need apply, it cuts the field right down.

“The appointment procedure for all posts should have the confidence of all those involved in education and must above all, be fair and transparent. It appears in this case that these standards have not been maintained.”

When the school opened in 2007, it was the first purpose-built Gaelic-medium school in Scotland.

Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis has a role of 169 primary school pupils and 94 nursery pupils.

At the last census it was revealed that Scotland has just over 59,000 gaelic speakers, a decline of almost 7,000 in a decade.

Government spending on gaelic education has soared, increasing from £19.2million in 2009/10 to £21.7million in 2010–11.