Mass demotion of teachers ‘driven by cuts’, say critics

EIGHTY principal teachers will be demoted from next month as their roles are phased out to make way for newly-created “curriculum leader” posts.

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

It is part of the council’s shake-up of the management structure in Edinburgh’s 23 secondary schools, which was revealed earlier this year and was widely criticised by parents, teachers and opposition councillors.

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In an attempt to save £2.4 million, education bosses decided to create a reduced number of “curriculum leader” posts to replace principal teacher roles, while also axing 15 deputy head posts.

Fifty-two principal teachers opted to leave their jobs in the summer through the council’s voluntary early release arrangement, leaving a “surplus” of 80.

A total of 206 curriculum leaders jobs are being created, compared with the 460 principal teacher roles held across Edinburgh’s secondary schools. The appointments are expected to be made next month.

The new roles will see staff being put in charge of a faculty rather than individual subjects, reducing the number of management posts within schools.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: “Classroom teachers have always had a responsibility for curriculum development, and this move reinforces their status at the front line of delivering the best learning service.

“Our curriculum leaders will be ideally placed, at the perfect time, to enhance the inter- disciplinary approach used in Curriculum for Excellence.”

However, the council’s management restructuring is still causing concern for many, who believe it has been poorly handled from the start.

Parents and councillors have been arguing about the lack of information and evidence over the benefits to educational attainment which education bosses argue the new structure will have.

Despite calling for a more detailed report several months ago, critics say they still do not have the information they need. Councillor Paul Godzik, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “There is a desperate need for more evidence to be presented to the [education] committee.

“We have had two committees now, as well as a full council discussion on this issue, but each time we have been asking for a higher level of information, which we still don’t have.

“Surely the officials must realise by now that this is required and that parents and teachers expect no less.

“We should have been afforded the information in full before this restructure is progressed in this way. I think it was the wrong decision to go down this path.

“At the moment, it looks like the whole process is being driven by cuts with no real desire to outline any educational benefits.”

Cllr MacLaren insisted restructuring was the “more palatable” option when it came to finding savings in schools.

She added: “I have no doubt at all that this reorganisation will bring positive improvements to curriculum learning and will not have any disadvantages.”