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Teacher Entitlements at Highland Secondary Schools (26/05/09)
The Highland Council has moved quickly to assure parents and teaching staff that it is not cutting teaching posts to achieve budget savings.
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Council’s Education Culture and Sport Committee, stressed the Council has simply continued the normal process of ensuring that the schools are staffed in line with the Council’s agreed staffing formula.
Teacher entitlements, he said, were implemented consistently and fairly across the 29 Highland secondary schools to reflect an agreed formula based on the number of pupils attending each school.
Councillor Fernie said that allocating teacher entitlements to secondary schools was an annual exercise. A formula for allocating teaching budgets was based on roll figures. All head teachers were aware of the formula and they worked closely with education authority officers to adhere as closely as possible to the entitlement.
He said: “The process fluctuates over the course of the school year due to changing school numbers but we are now at the stage of the school session to more accurately project the entitlement of each school from August.”
He said he was dismayed at the comments made on teacher staffing in Highland secondary schools by Mr David Thompson, Highland MSP. He said the information Mr Thompson was using was inaccurate and he feared his comments could cause needless concern to parents and staff.
He said: “Firstly, the Council’s Administration has not taken any decision to cut teaching posts. We have simply continued the normal process of ensuring that the schools are staffed in line with the Council’s agreed staffing formula. The previous Independent-SNP Administration did this last year also with exactly the same effect.
“All Councils do this on an annual basis and to suggest that this is an exercise to cut school staffing is misleading.
“Secondly, Mr Thompson is using old figures which were very clearly described at the time as early estimates only. Head teachers in secondary schools are fully aware of their actual staffing entitlements and have been so for many weeks.
“I am concerned that Mr Thompson is seeking to link the annual staffing exercise with the cost of the new PPP schools. The cost of these schools has always been known and the Council has provided the additional funding to the Education, Culture and Sport Service budget to meet these costs.
“The bottom line is very clear – there is no link between the cost of PPP schools and the normal annual adjustments to teacher staffing.”