Scottish secondary teachers “should teach in primary”

SCOTTISH teachers should be allowed to work more freely in both primary and secondary schools, council officials have said.

Under the proposal, subject experts from secondary could be drafted in to primary schools to develop expertise in key areas such as science or modern languages.

In 2012, a report by the Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group highlighted primary teachers' limited knowledge and understanding of mathematics and science and the resulting lack of confidence in these areas.

There are also serious concerns over the ability of primary teachers to deliver the Scottish Government's aspiration to adopt the European Union's 1+2 policy, which would see all Scottish pupils learning two languages in addition to their native tongue by the end of primary school.

The policy of using teachers across different sectors would also allow local authorities greater flexibility over staff at a time when budgets are being cut and the number of classroom and support staff has fallen.

A spokesman for council umbrella body Cosla said: "We support local authorities and schools having the flexibility necessary to deliver on the aims and ambitions of the curriculum.

"Whether this is delivering greater equity within education under the national improvement framework, ensuring Scotland is a science and technology power house or a leader in modern languages, greater flexibility does not mean a reduction in cooperation.

"This is not flexibility without structure or purpose, but about ensuring increasingly scarce resources are able to be deployed to meet the needs of local children."

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education for Scotland (Ades), said the idea made sense both financially and educationally.

He said: "There is a call for a more strategic approach to budget cuts and greater flexibility in staffing, but this would also have educational benefits."

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said many primary and secondary teachers already worked beyond the traditional divide.

He said: "With regard to the call for specialist teaching across the sector, we recognise that there are already a significant number of teachers who do precisely that, such as in the transition phase between primary and secondary schools.

"Supporting specialist teachers to enable them to work more readily across sectors is a worthy idea, but would require to be carefully managed and coordinated. "It is essential that professional standards are maintained so that teachers have the appropriate qualifications and registration for the subject and sector in which they are deployed."

Mr Flanagan said he expected safeguards to be put in place to avoid teaching staff being "overstretched" and to prevent flexibility from being "abused" as an excuse to cuts staffing levels and costs.
Councils were the big losers in Finance Secretary John Swinney's 2016-17 budget, with 3.5 per cent lopped off their £10bn budget – a real-terms cut of around 7 per cent after inflation and rising demand for services are factored in.

Cosla said in December the budget left councils facing "very unpalatable options such as compulsory redundancies and education cuts. is the online edition of Scotland's favourite newspapers, that brings you your Daily news. Every day we bring you the best in Scottish news, sport, entertainment and opinion, including breaking news, picture galleries, videos and live blogs.

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