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Council advertises job posts which Dundee secondary teachers are striking over

Stewart Hunter, Dundee City Council's children and families convener, says plans are underway.
Stewart Hunter, Dundee City Council's children and families convener, says plans are underway.

Dundee City Council has begun advertising job posts for a secondary school management shake-up which the city’s teachers are striking against.

The council is pressing ahead with a new faculty management plan in secondary schools – despite teachers striking on June 22 against it.

The council is also currently making arrangements for Dundee’s secondaries on the teachers’ strike day, prioritising provision for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.

A spokesman for Dundee City Council says these arrangements are being finalised and will be communicated to school communities as soon as possible.

Principal teacher posts axed

Faculties will bring together ‘families’ of subjects headed by curriculum leaders to replace the current system, at the loss of 110 principal teachers.

Schools are moving to the new system on a phased basis from August, despite demands from local teachers to scrap the plans.

Jobs are now being advertised for faculty heads, with job descriptions being based on those in place at other Scottish local authorities which already have the faculty system.

Stewart Hunter, Dundee City Council’s children and families convener, said: “Individual head teachers – in consultation with their teachers and in partnership with senior officers – are creating a faculty structure which best supports their school’s curriculum, leadership, and management requirements within delegated staffing budgets.

Dundee City Council’s Stewart Hunter says faculty structures are to support teachers, who are ready to strike.

“Faculty structures will not mean any reduction in teacher FTE (full time equivalent) in any school. Quite the opposite, our staffing levels will be enhanced.”

However teaching union EIS claims the restructure would disrupt pupils’ learning, and result in fewer experienced teachers, less dedicated support and an increase in teachers’ workload and stress.

Members at Dundee EIS feel so strongly against the new system that 88% of them voted in favour of industrial action, in a bid to fight its introduction.

David Baxter, local EIS rep, said: “There is a very simple solution to avoid strike – take faculties off the table.

“If the council’s strategy is to ride out the strike it shows that they haven’t been listening.

“We have asked to work with the council on this and they have taken the decision to go ahead. They have offered nothing to come out of dispute – nothing to avoid strike.

Dundee EIS teaching union rep David Baxter backs the teachers strike.

“It’s politicians telling class teachers that they know what is going on in the classroom better than them, and essentially telling teachers how to run education.”

He added that this week’s upcoming AGM for the EIS, held in Dundee, is likely to be the last time the event takes place in the city, as a direct result of the dispute.

And that after the summer holidays, the union is looking to hold another vote on the removal of ‘good will’ of teachers.

If successfully backed, that would mean teachers would no longer carry out extra duties, things like supervising playgrounds on breaks or running extra curricular clubs.

David said: “It’s an escalation of the situation. Schools work on good will and once you remove that, schools find it very difficult to operate.

“The average teacher works a 47 hour week when they are contracted to a 35 hour week.

Schools work on good will and once you remove that, schools find it very difficult to operate.”

David Baxter

“The council has lost the trust and the good will of its teachers and will lose the city money (with the AGM no longer being held in Dundee).

“If they take faculties off the table then we are happy to work with the council but if they impose this then empowerment will never happen.”

Three years in the making

Plans to introduce the faculty system in Dundee were agreed by councillors three years ago and have since been introduced to most councils in Scotland.

But the majority of them were brought in with lifetime cash conservation (secured salaries), says David, which has since been scrapped.

Councillor Stewart Hunter added: “Over the past three years, council officers have met regularly with local trade union representatives to discuss, and consult on, the implementation of faculty structures in secondary schools.

“Ongoing changes have been made because of feedback from trade unions during these planned meetings, while updates were always shared with trade unions.

“Dundee City Council is hoping and willing to continue talks with the trade unions.

“We will also be talking to principal teaching staff about the options that will be available for them going forward, as well as updating families about what these changes will mean for their children’s education.”

Dundee secondary school teachers vote to strike with date agreed for next month

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