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SNP education chief urged to halt Dundee school reforms

Mercedes Villalba.
Mercedes Villalba.

Plans to scrap principal teachers in secondary schools should be blocked by the education secretary at Holyrood, according to a Labour MSP.

Mercedes Villalba called on education secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville to “intervene” after a union threatened to strike

Dundee’s SNP council announced in March it wants to move to a new faculty model, instead of every individual subject having a teacher who heads it up.

The move has sparked anger among teachers with 88% recently supporting plans to take industrial action if the changes aren’t stopped.

Teachers are set to walk out on June 22 in a mass protest against the council.

Ms Villalba said: “Despite the Scottish Government’s warm words around empowerment of teachers, SNP-run Dundee City Council is pursuing this restructure in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville

“I understand the council has had over three years to constructively negotiate but have failed to provide basic detail including the recruitment process for faculty heads and costings associated with the restructuring.”

She added: “It’s critical to the quality of education in Dundee, for young people’s attainment and life chances that ministers step in now to halt this so-called restructuring.

“A failure to do so, would be a betrayal of students, their parents, teachers, and the whole community.”

A campaign launched to stop the proposed secondary school changes going through has received more than 600 signatures so far.

Commenting on plans to strike recently, Dundee’s EIS secretary warned the restructure would result in fewer teachers and disruption to learning for kids.

‘Damaging consequences’

Local union secretary David Baxter said: “The council’s plans would remove vital experience offered by subject specialist principal teachers from schools, with long-term damaging consequences for education in Dundee.”

Dundee council chiefs claim the faculty model will be an upgrade on the existing system.

New faculties could include English and Literacy, Sciences and Social Studies.

David Baxter.

Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “The change is designed to improve the quality of learning and teaching by providing enhanced whole school leadership that can better support pupils and improve outcomes.

“It is only one of a range of measures which are being taken forward in Dundee schools to improve the situation as we work to reduce the attainment gap.

“Faculties provide a much more integrated and effective approach than is possible through the current system.”

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