Scots schools to be hit by strike in ‘cutbacks’ dispute

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale hit out at 'absurd' funding decisions. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Labour leader Kezia Dugdale hit out at 'absurd' funding decisions. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Scottish schools will be hit by strike action today as teachers walk out in a dispute over plans to axe deputy heads and department principal posts.

Secondaries in West Dunbartonshire will be closed to pupils in a dispute over the controversial restructuring plans amid fears they will add to the “severe” workloads of teachers and hit exam preparation for pupils.

Council leaders say they are “saddened” by the one-day action of the EIS union and want talks to prevent the dispute escalating in the weeks ahead.

More than 5,000 pupils attend five secondary schools in the West Dunbartonshire area.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Secondary teachers in West Dunbartonshire are making a stand in opposition to cuts that will have a long-term damaging impact on education provision in all West Dunbartonshire secondary schools. This management ‘restructuring’ of secondary schools is, in reality, a financially driven cut that will have serious implications for pupils and teachers in West Dunbartonshire.”

Unions fear the new faculty structures would result in a loss of specialist leadership in subject departments, and a diminution of the support available to teachers and pupils. Flanagan added: “Teachers are taking this action today as a last resort to defend the quality of education provision in West Dunbartonshire’s secondary schools. While we appreciate that strike action can be disruptive, we also hope that pupils and parents will understand the reasons for today’s action and will support our campaign to protect quality education for all Secondary pupils in West Dunbartonshire.”

Council chiefs last night said they are “doing everything” to resolve the dispute as soon as they can. “We are saddened that the EIS is going ahead with its strike,” a council spokeswoman said.

“We met senior union officials three days ago to try to avoid the need for strike action, and presented a package of nine new measures that would address the issue of workload at our secondary schools. We also offered to work with Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, to resolve this through negotiation. Unfortunately EIS was unwilling to postpone the strike action.”

She described the council’s faculty structure as “carefully-considered” and said it is more generous in terms of school management posts than others elsewhere in Scotland.

She added; “The management restructure will result in no reduction in teachers, no reduction in teaching time and no reduction in management time.”