It has been clear to the Association for a significant time that major curricular change has only been achievable on the basis of the full support of the teaching profession. Recent experience has suggested that this co-operation has been in some quarters taken for granted.
The Association provides the following advice for members relating to the contractual demands which can be placed on teachers following the publication of documentation relating to the CfE “engagement process”.
Q.1 Does the publication of any CfE material make any change to the contractual arrangements for teachers?
Q.2 What contractual requirements do exist?
A. They are as contained in the Handbook of Conditions for Teachers and (more importantly) in the School’s Working Time Agreement (WTA).
Q.3 Can there be an imposed variation to the current WTA?
A. No. It is recommended that existing WTAs are amended only in emergency situations with the agreement of the staff. Any such amendment must be made at a meeting of the School Negotiating Committee (SNC). The advent of the CfE proposals does not constitute an emergency.
Q.4 What time is allocated to curriculum development?
A. Only the time so identified in the WTA. “Flexibility time” might also be used as agreed by the SNC.
Q.5 Can teachers be required to use the whole of an in-service day to undertake curriculum development for CfE?
A. This is perhaps not the general purpose of an in-service day but it would be a possible use of the new additional in-service days.
Q.6 What happens when it is clearly seen that the amount of time required to undertake agreed curriculum development does not exist?
A. The relevant curriculum development work should be seen as “major curriculum development”. A school WTA could never allow for major curriculum development work. Such work is work for seconded teachers. This means that teachers will be required to be withdrawn from their normal duties (partially or fully) to undertake the work. Alternatively, the work might be given to specially designated writing teams on the basis of an agreement to provide the work outside the terms of teachers’ normal contracts.
Q.7 How should any in-school arrangements relating to CfE be determined?
A. Only after the agreement of staff in an appropriate forum. This might be the School Negotiating Committee (although strictly the Committee ought to discuss only the implications for the WTA). A School Liaison Committee might discuss the matter. Contractual aspects, however, can only be agreed within the SNC.
Q.8 How should teachers be involved in discussions relating to the implications of CfE?
A. It remains to be seen what the implications are. The production of the documentation relating to the “engagement process” is not in itself sufficient to “define” CfE. Teachers should expect to be involved in:-
(a) Discussion with employers via JCCs/JCGs and other formal negotiating bodies.
(b) Ad hoc specialist groups.
(c) In school (perhaps whole school) groups.
(d) Departmental groups.
Q.9 What happens to the arrangements in departments where there is no qualified PT in the relevant subject?
A. This is a problem for the employer. The lack of a PT does not make the relevant management tasks work for unpromoted teachers.
Q.10 What dangers exist with the implementation of the CfE proposals?
A. As outlined above, the implications for workload are considerable. It is already clear that much of the work, particularly the preparation of pupil materials, can only be done by teachers seconded for that purpose.
Q.11 To what extent can outside agencies become involved in issues which have contractual implications for teachers?
A. Outside agencies have no locus in determining teachers’ contractual conditions. The Association has, however, observed attempts by various bodies to become involved in contractual matters. If it is suggested to members that such agencies are entitled to make comment on contractual issues, contact should be made with the General Secretary.
Q.12 Much of the work relating to CfE seems to be in the preparation of materials (for pupils and teachers) or areas which are seen as “cross curricular”. Who has the responsibility for the production of these materials?
A. See question 6. This would be clearly major curriculum development.
Q.13 Curriculum for Excellence seems to have much more support in the Primary sector. Why is this?
A. There are a variety of reasons but the most obvious relate to the requirements in the secondary sector in relation to National Certification. Regardless of what CfE does produce, the requirement to prepare students for National Qualifications (whatever form these eventually take) will remain. Over recent years there has been a significant move in the secondary sector to stress the importance of “attainment”. While that emphasis remains (and there is no doubt of its importance), CfE cannot become the sole driving force for change in the secondary sector.
Q.14 How should any cross circular content be identified and managed?
A. The whole thrust of CfE has been “school” involvement. “School” does not mean “headteacher”. The teaching staff must be involved in decision making. Where this does not happen, there are formal complaint mechanisms. Any properly decided cross curricular content should be jointly managed by the PTs responsible but only under the following conditions:
1. The content is related to the PTs’ subject area or expertise. The PT (Modern Languages) is not expected to manage a course in “Sport in Europe” because the word “Europe” appears in the title.
2. The relevant departmental members must be properly consulted and support any new curricular proposals. “Properly” is important: collegiate practice, showing a significant degree of consensus, must be apparent.
3. Time must be available as described in Q.6. The use of additional in-service days is clearly required for this work. However, completely new courses will not be capable of being written in four or five days. These days can, however, be used for the adaptation of centrally prepared materials.
Q.15 What is the appropriate input for senior management?
A. The SMT does not direct curricular practice. As indicated above, this is a matter for all staff. The overall management role, however, still remains. This includes the requirement to find necessary staff time and funding.