Dundee’s teachers to strike in protest at school reorganisation
The Educational Institute of Scotland has told Dundee City Council its members will strike on June 22, impacting all the city’s secondary schools, as the union urged council leaders to halt plans to introduce a faculty system.
Larry Flanagan, the union’s general secretary, said the local authority’s proposals “would remove the vital experience offered by subject specialist principal teachers from our schools” and that it would cause “long-term damaging consequences for education in Dundee”.
He warned: “Dundee’s teachers will not back down in their defence of the quality of education provision in the city’s secondary schools.”
But Stewart Hunter, the council’s children and families convener, said the re-organisation was “designed to improve the quality of learning and teaching that can better support pupils and improve outcomes”.
Faculties have long been established across Scotland but opponents have argued they are driven by cost-cutting rather than improvement of educational standards.
Under the system, subjects are brought together and run by a single manager, with typical groupings including Social Studies, Expressive Arts, and Health and Wellbeing.
At the moment Dundee has specialist teachers appointed for individual subjects.
Dundee City Council, which agreed to the changes three years ago but delayed their implementation because of the pandemic, said secondary schools were moving to the new system on a phased basis from August and new posts were being advertised now.
The authority announced the plans on Tuesday, a move the general secretary described as an “act of provocation that will only add to teachers’ anger”, just days ahead of its annual meeting in the city starting on Thursday.
Mr Flanagan said: “Teachers do not take strike action lightly, but they will do so to defend the quality of education for Dundee’s young people.”
He added: We call on SNP-led Dundee Council to recognise its own party’s endorsement of school empowerment, to suspend its provocative recruitment process and to engage in constructive negotiations with teacher representatives.”
As part of the union’s dispute it has withdrawn its invitation to the city’s Lord Provost, Bill Campbell, to speak at the event and said it might seek to review regularly holding its conference in the city which it said was worth £1 million to the local economy.
Councillor Hunter said the new senior leadership structure would not lead to a reduction in the number of teachers at any school, and said that “staffing levels would be enhanced”.
“It has never been the intention to impose a ‘one size fits all’ model,” he said.
“Headteachers have been clear with us that this is what they want for their schools. They believe that faculties, tailored to their own schools, will benefit their young people.”
Councillor Hunter added that the council was “hoping and willing to continue talks with the trade unions”.
The city council said arrangements for the date of the strike were being finalised, and information would be sent to pupils as soon as possible.