‘Demoted’ teachers to cost schools tens of thousands

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SCHOOLS will be stuck paying tens of thousands of pounds per year for “demoted” teachers under the council’s shake-up of management structures.

Education chiefs want to demote almost 140 principal teachers and axe 15 deputy head posts in secondaries to save £2.4 million over two years.

But the costs of “conserving” their higher salaries for up to five years looks set to fall on individual school budgets instead of being met centrally by the education department.

Instead of having principal teachers, a new management structure being phased in after the summer holidays will see “curriculum leaders”, who will be in charge of a faculty rather than individual subjects.

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

Parents have been seeking clarification on who will meet these extra costs and have now been told it will come out of headteachers’ budgets.

Education bosses argue that the council’s Voluntary Early Release Arrangement (VERA) will reduce the number of principal teachers staying on as classroom teachers.

But Ann Henderson, chair of the parent council at James Gillespie’s, said schools were still in the dark about exactly how much money they will need to find from their own budgets. She said: “The thing that I’m finding most frustrating is it’s completely unplanned in terms of the consequences.

“How can a headteacher plan how they are going to spend the devolved budget?

“We don’t know how many people are taking VERA. All we know for sure is that it’s bad news for devolved school budgets because this is falling on to them when they have had no control on the overall process.”

Ms Henderson, who wrote to the education department to seek clarification, added: “It’s quite sad that we have got to a level where in the capital city of Scotland people don’t have confidence in the local authority’s management of schools.

“There’s total uncertainty and low morale.”

In a joint deputation by parent councils to councillors last week, Susan Hardman Moore, parent council chair at St Thomas of Aquins, warned: “Schools will not be able to meet budgets if they have to fund conserved posts for three to five years – around £10,000 a year per principal teacher – for some schools £60,000 per annum-plus.”

In his response to the parent council at James Gillespie’s, Jack Hamilton, the headteacher of Boroughmuir who has been seconded to help implement the management restructure in schools, said: “At this stage conserved salary costs will be met by schools but it is hoped through VERA and retirement these costs will be minimised.”

A spokesman for the city council added: “We are reviewing this situation but we have already made it clear that we would take a flexible approach to changes and that there will be no negative impact on learning and teaching.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com