Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 14:47 UK

Council plans shared school heads

Under the plans, four primary schools could have one shared head teacher

Only 20 of 65 primary schools in the Borders would have their own head teachers under local authority restructuring plans.

Under the plans, the remaining 45 would have shared headships and four Catholic primaries could have one single head.

The EIS teachers' union said it opposed shared headships and threatened to ballot for industrial action if cuts resulted in compulsory redundancies.

Scottish Borders Council said the changes were not about saving money.

The council's Transforming Children's Services document suggested that 20 of the area's primary schools would have their own head teacher.

They include larger schools like Kingsland and Priorsford in Peebles, Langlee and St Peter's in Galashiels, Burnfoot and Trinity in Hawick.

Head teachers feel that the pressures on them in terms of management are now too great to fulfil a teaching role as well
Councillor Catriona Bhatia
Executive member for education

Others would share one head between two schools, such as Eddleston and Walkerburn, or Yetholm and Morebattle.

According to the report, all of the Catholic primary schools in the area - in Peebles, Galashiels, Selkirk and Hawick - could be run together, or may have two heads between them.

The plans also include fewer promoted posts, with schools having one head of science, rather than separate principals for physics, chemistry and biology.

There would also be increased collaboration with social work services, so that more youngsters with special needs could be taught locally, rather than at residential units outside the Borders.

Councillor Catriona Bhatia, executive member for education at Scottish Borders Council, said the proposals were based on feedback from school managers but were also made in the context of reduced Scottish Government funding.

'Diminishing resources'

She said: "Having gone round all the schools in the Borders and spoken with some teaching head teachers, they feel that the pressures on them in terms of management are now too great to fulfil a teaching role as well.

"The children who are constantly having their classes disrupted by the head teacher having to go out to meetings will have a full-time classroom teacher, and the head teacher will be able to manage across two schools.

"We've got around 15 schools at the moment who are part of a shared headship or satellite headship and they seem to be working well.

"With diminishing resources coming from the government, we'll need to make sure that we can operate a very good service within limited resources."

Glenn Rodger, the council's education director, claimed the plans would give teachers more time in the classroom and managers more time to manage.

He said: "I'm quite excited by the idea we're proposing of a different type of middle management structure, with people having the time to take on that role effectively.

"It's the same with our plans for services for people additional needs, there will more time to take on a real leadership role and drive the services forward while at the same time keeping the core numbers of staff - teachers and social workers who are doing the face-to-face work."

The proposals come after a 15-month council review of children's services and a public consultation will begin next week.

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