Up to 45 primary schools in Glasgow face having only the headteacher out of class as a result of council budget cuts, The Herald can exclusively reveal.

Concerns have already been raised that such a situation would represent a risk to pupil and teacher safety and lead to reductions in areas such as ASN provision.

The council’s current plans were described as “unacceptable” by a leading parents’ representative, while the local branch of the EIS teaching union now plans to ballot members over possible industrial action up to and including school strikes.

The Herald understands that NASUWT is currently consulting with members to determine its next steps.

Glasgow City Council is in the process of cutting 172 teaching posts, with a total of 450 at risk over three years, following an SNP-Green budget deal in February.

Parents, teachers, trade-unionists and campaigners have opposed the decision to reduce teacher numbers, with targeted protests having already been held in Govan, Shawlands, and outside the council chambers.


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In response to The Herald’s coverage of these events, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council stated that “less than a third” of primary schools faced a situation in which “the headteacher is the only member of the senior management team not class committed”. A Freedom of Information disclosure has now confirmed that 45 schools – 32% of Glasgow primaries – are currently planning to operate under these circumstances, although The Herald understands that the full impact varies from school to school.

The FOI response also states that this is the figure “before the allocation of probationers” – these are new, partly-qualified teachers who have not yet achieved the full standards for registration.

Leanne McGuire of the Glasgow City Parents Group said that the current plans are “unacceptable”: “We were aware that some Glasgow schools might face a situation where the headteacher would be the only teacher not in class, but we didn’t anticipate the extent of this issue. It’s unacceptable for 45 of our primary schools to be in this position.

“Parents are deeply concerned about how schools will manage staff sickness or serious incidents under these circumstances. This situation also limits the headteacher’s ability to communicate with parents and carers on individual matters. Parents and carers should always be able to reach out to their child’s headteacher with concerns, but this becomes nearly impossible when the headteacher is handling everything else across the school.

“I’m worried this will lead to strained relationships, with headteachers being unavailable and families feeling unsupported, through no fault of the teachers.”


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A spokesperson for the EIS confirmed that a three-week consultative ballot will begin in Glasgow on Monday May 20, adding: “This ballot is the next step in our dispute with the employer over deep cuts to teacher numbers which has seen 125 teachers lost this year with 172 to go next session and 450 proposed over the course of Glasgow City Council’s 3-year budget plan.

“If these cuts are not reversed, we are clear that the damage to education provision in the city will be profound and have a drastic impact on our pupils for years to come, most especially for those with Additional Support Needs.

“Further, these cuts will have an adverse effect on the sustainability of teacher workload and their wellbeing. With posts being cut now in preparation for next session, many of our most recently qualified teachers are facing unemployment.

“This Consultative ballot is to gauge the mood of members towards taking Industrial Action up to and including strike and would be followed by a Statutory Ballot, if required.”

The spokesperson also warned against any expectation that probationer teachers could be used to address the impact of ongoing cuts to qualified teacher posts.

They added: “It is unfair to both the school and the probationer teachers to make the smoother running of the school reliant on their induction year. In the 45 Primary schools where only Headteachers are available to support staff and pupils, the school will have limited capacity to provide the probationer teacher with the support they deserve.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that Glasgow City Council is aware of the EIS ballot and "will await the outcome".

Regarding the allocation of probationers to schools in which only the headteacher is currently planned to be out of class, they added: “Our probationers are valued employees of our schools and each year they become an integral part of the overall school staffing structure. 

“During the annual staffing exercise, headteachers propose a pointage of their staffing in order to secure a probationer or probationers.

“Probationers are not seen as an alternative to or substitute for permanent posts. 

“As probationers work towards achieving the full standard for registration, they are mentored by an experienced member of staff - but have their own class for 0.8fte or four days a week.   

“It is for headteachers to consider how probationer staff are deployed in their schools, but historically there is flexibility to free up senior leaders to focus on other activities related to the school’s priorities.”  

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

A Scottish Government spokesperson told the Herald that the Education Secretary, Jenny Gilruth, has asked officials to raise this matter with Glasgow City Council 'to better understand these proposals', adding: “Decisions on the deployment of teachers in Glasgow is a matter for Glasgow City Council.

“The Scottish Government is committed to protecting teacher numbers, which is why we are offering local authorities £145.5m in this year’s budget (24/25) for that purpose.

“This funding will allow councils to protect teacher numbers in order to support children’s education, and we would hope this would be an outcome that our local government partners would share."