Councillors banned from talking to teachers about cuts


By Kirsty Topping

LOCAL councillors have been banned from talking to teachers who are worried about education cuts.

Edinburgh Council has ordered elected members to refer questions from worried school staff to their headteacher, in a move today branded as

“profoundly undemocratic.”

In a briefing to councillors,Head of Schools Mike Rosendale, instructed them to pass on queries even if the teachers asking the questions are constituents.

But one councilor has already decided to defy the ban. Councillor Paul Godzik, Labour’s education spokesman, has said he will continue to listen to queries and concerns.

He said:

“I think teachers and councillors should be able to have an open dialogue.

“If someone came to me with any issue I would hear that issue in confidence.

“I certainly wouldn’t be referring it on to the head teacher if that individual did not want me to do that. “

He added:’One of the important things that we as councillors do is take issues in confidence, hear people’s complaints and act on them.

“I don’t think this advice is in the spirit of that and most councillors will not look on this favourably.

“The majority will continue to hear constituents’ issues in the strictest confidence.I do think,without the permission of the constituentsto refer it to the hear teacher, councillors could be getting into data protection and confidentiality issues and would have to consider that very carefully. “

Edinburgh council is proposing a move to a

“faculty model’ of teaching in a bid to reduce the number of deputy heads and principal teachers.

Principal teachers would take charge of an entire department as opposed to just one subject. In theory this could see a teacher in charge of different subjects such as English and modern languages.

Councillor Alison Johnstone, education spokeswoman for the Greens, added:

“I understand that staff are contractually supposed not to raise their concerns with their local councillors, but I regard this as a profoundly undemocratic restriction.

“School staff who live in my ward have already spoken to me about the problems this move will cause and I will guarantee anonymity to anyone else who wishes to discuss the situation with me. “

A council spokesman said:

“Headteachers are fully aware of the process and of the proposed changes in their schools and are the best source of information for staff who may have questions to ask.

“Of course, staff always have access to their local councilors to discuss concerns. “