Union ‘misleading’ teachers about applying for new posts

EDUCATION bosses in the Capital have accused a teaching union of “misleading” teachers by saying they will be “dismissing themselves” if they fail to apply for new posts.

Council chiefs are claiming the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has provided “misleading and inaccurate” information to teachers over its school management restructuring process.

The SSTA has written to its members raising concerns about the implementation of the new structure and highlighting “errors” in the process.

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The change to replace the role of principal teachers with the new curriculum leaders posts – described as “matching” – is already under way in city schools, and education bosses say this has been agreed with all teaching unions, including the SSTA.

The council is creating a total of 206 curriculum leader jobs, compared with the 460 principal teacher roles held across Edinburgh’s secondary schools.

But Jim Docherty, depute general secretary of the SSTA, told teachers in a letter that there were “errors in the job sizing and re-job sizing procedures” and advised members not to participate in the process.

David Wright, senior education manager, accused Mr Docherty of providing “misleading and inaccurate information”. He said: “The letter suggests that staff are being ‘forced to apply’ for new posts, that failure to do so may mean that they have ‘dismissed themselves’ and that their salary conservation may be adversely affected.

“None of this is true in any way.”

However Mr Docherty disputes the council official’s version of events.

Today he hit back at the accusation he has provided misleading information. He said: “The SSTA has made no inaccurate or misleading suggestions about the council’s position.

“We have advised our members not to participate in the process which Edinburgh now calls the matching process and the reason for that is that it’s not in their interests to do so.

“The letter does not suggest that staff are being forced to apply for new posts, the letter says that staff are being told by certain Edinburgh headteachers that they are being forced to apply for the new posts.

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“These words are not my words, but the words of headteachers.

“When I asked the officials what was to happen to teachers who did not wish to apply, I was met with blank stares, making it clear that either the matter had never been considered or they really did hope that pressure applied by headteachers and the council would force teachers into applying for posts that they did not want.”

The SSTA will now consider its position in the new year.

The row between the council and the union has erupted following a meeting between the two last week. The council’s shake-up of the management structure in Edinburgh’s 23 secondary schools was revealed earlier this year and was widely criticised by parents, teachers and opposition councillors.

Education chiefs will be taking management responsibilities away from “surplus” principal teachers, who will be demoted while maintaining their salaries for up to five years.

The new roles will see staff being put in charge of a faculty rather than individual subjects.