Dozens of new teachers take city secondary posts

City chiefs say early retirement has allowed schools to recruit 'new talent'

City chiefs say early retirement has allowed schools to recruit 'new talent'

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EIGHT times as many newly qualified secondary teachers have been employed on temporary contracts by education chiefs in Edinburgh than last year to fill the gap left by those taking early retirement.

A total of 60 teachers who have recently completed their probation have been given temporary jobs across the Capital’s 23 high schools, compared with just seven at this time last year.

The hike in available jobs is a result of the recent restructure in school management, which saw 52 principal teachers and six deputy heads leaving through early retirement. The shake-up of the management structure will see 139 principal teachers demoted and 15 deputy head posts axed to save £2.4 million over the next two years.

City bosses employed 100 temporary teachers in total at the start of the new term – with 60 of them being newly qualified teachers (NQTs) – to plug the gap created by those who left their jobs at the start of the summer holidays.

City education leader Marilyne MacLaren said it has created the opportunity to bring “new talent” into schools.

However, others still have serious concerns about the impact of losing so many experienced staff in one go.

The new management structure being phased in over the next two years will see the creation of “curriculum leader” posts, which will replace principal teacher roles, and will be in charge of a faculty rather than individual subjects.

The 139 principal teachers who will not be promoted will instead be demoted to classroom teacher, but will keep their management salary for between three and five years.

The restructure has been controversial, with unions, teachers, politicians and parents all critical.

Paul Godzik, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “There has been an issue across Scotland with regards to NQTs finding posts so I suppose that is a positive in the restructuring process.

“However, I still have reservations about how it will actually affect teaching.

“Unfortunately, removing principal teachers will decrease support and may hinder the development of new teachers.”

Councillor Alison Johnstone, education spokeswoman for the Greens, added: “While it’s good to hear that 60 newly qualified teachers have been offered temporary contracts, I have concerns regarding the loss of so many experienced principal teachers.”

Councillor MacLaren hit back at critics of the restructure, referring to them as “doomsayers”. She said: “It’s fantastic to be able to bring new talent into our schools and whilst these roles are temporary for now, we’ll need to fill them permanently once our new structure is in place.

“Change is never easy but I am confident that this restructuring process, through good management and consultation, is going well – in stark contrast to what some doomsayers gloomily predicted.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com