New role for headteachers being planned

Larbert Village is affected
Larbert Village is affected

Financial pressures could mean more headteachers being put in charge of more than one primary school a leading councillor has warned.

Smaller schools in outlying areas are most at risk as the squeeze is put on spending.

Alan Nimmo, Falkirk Council’s education spokesperson has admitted the threat of budget cuts means the possibility of “shared headships” cannot be ignored.

Councillor Nimmo, chair of the recruitment panel for headteachers, said: “If there are savings to be made that’s got to be factored in for the coming year’s budget. As part of the process we have to look at cost effective ways to manage some of our smaller schools.”

He claimed: “Combining them with larger primaries gives pupils at our smaller schools added opportunities of being part of the bigger school process. No decisions on dual headships have been taken so far and I’m not aware of any problems with the headteachers or from their trade unions.”

A council spokesman said: “Whilst it is normal practice for headteacher posts to proceed to advert for recruitment immediately, the temporary arrangements are in place pending a consultation exercise with the relevant parties on alternative management arrangements, following which appropriate recruitment exercises will be put in place. In the meantime we are satisfied appropriate management arrangements and support are available within these schools.”

Nigel Fletcher, head of education support and improvement, said: “For a number of reasons all across Scotland, especially in more rural areas, councils are developing shared headships as a model of leadership and management of schools. It provides greater security for the maintenance of small schools by avoiding the need for closure and improves the likelihood of attracting good candidates for the headship when it is advertised. It also enhances the opportunities for professional staff through joint working.

“Each school retains its own identity under the leadership of the shared headteacher and a management presence. For any school not identified as part of the programme but which currently has an acting headteacher we will move to advertise the post on a permanent basis early in the new session.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of teachers union the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “The EIS is not in favour of shared headships. Whilst we recognise that in some areas this approach has been justified in terms of keeping small schools open, it is basically a cost driven approach. The best educational model is for each school to have its own headteacher.”