The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association today supported complaints made by secondary headteachers in relation to issues now being delegated to them.

In a newsletter to members, SSTA General Secretary, Ann Ballinger, attacked local authorities in their approach to the issue. She noted in particular

"There seems to be a myth circulating that delegation to "schools" is a good thing. Regrettably no Scottish school ever did anything in the cause of education: the headteachers and staff many do that. The "school" concept is being used as a smokescreen in an attempt to disguise that more and more is being imposed on headteachers as authorities try to make savings.

"Two particular areas should be highlighted. Too many Councils are giving far too much authority to headteachers in terms of the employment of staff. Headteachers must not hire staff. A headteacher is not an employer. A supply teacher brought in to teach for even one day is an employee and automatically has certain employment rights. The SSTA notes with grave concern that many Councils offer no training at all in employment related issues and in particular in employment law."

Mrs Ballinger also criticised the absence management policies currently operated by many Councils.

"Headteachers are now asked to spend far too much time dealing with Council absence management procedures which too often call for an interview with every member of staff who has been absent for even one day. Such interviews are generally to absolutely no purpose and serve only to use up valuable time. Attempts have been made by some headteachers and employers to delegate this matter to Principal Teachers. Such a practice leaves the

Principal Teachers a hugely difficult position as they attempt to discuss with colleagues (and friends) confidential issues relating to the teacher's absence.

"The answer is clear: if the HR departments of Scottish local authorities do not have the resources to implement absence management systems from within HR departmental resources, the systems should be abolished or reviewed in order to produces a mechanism which can run within current budgetary constraints."