The Move to Faculties in Scottish Secondary Schools; the Experience of Student and Probationer Religious Education Teachers.

Graeme Nixon, Cherie Anderson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


This paper looks at the background to the move away from a middle management structure based on discrete subject departments managed by Principal Teachers within Scottish secondary schools towards groupings of subjects (faculties) with a single manager. Beyond a review of relevant policy and research literature this paper goes on to look at the impact of this change upon the experiences of students placed in schools during their PGDE and probationers undergoing induction. The focus group for this research is delimited, for pragmatic reasons at this time, to student and probationer teachers within the subject area Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RE). However, it is hoped to draw conclusions about the wider issues involved in adopting flatter management structures, particularly for small subject departments.

Key documents relevant to new structures in the Secondary schools include the Millennium Review (1998), The MacCrone Agreement (2000), HMIE (2001). Relevant aspects of these documents will be discussed such as the proposal for faculties and reception this idea received from Principal Teachers (The Millennium Review); the recommendation that quality teachers should be freed from management roles in order to teach (HMIE) and the new professional autonomy advocated by the MacCrone agreement. Another relevant factor in the move to faculties was the desire for cross-curricular and less compartmentalised learning in the secondary school, as evidenced in the recommendations of the Howie Report (1992).

This paper will argue that these strands came together in the move to Faculty structures in the period following MacCrone(2000). In 2008 at least 19* out of 33 Local Education Authorities have adopted faculty type structures, albeit in different forms. The various models implemented for school management structures are also considered. Reviews of management changes in Local Authorities will also form part of the literature for this paper.

The empirical work undergone to inform this paper is a survey of Probationer and PGDE students within the subject Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RE). All RE, PGDE students and probationers, will be surveyed in January/February and April 2008. The questionnaire enquires into the management structures of their induction and placement schools and the levels of support they have experienced. It is therefore the intention for this paper to offer some conclusions about the benefits and flaws of the various models for secondary school management. The data gathered from these surveys will be triangulated with interview data gathered from key players in this development both at local authority and national level.

Our hypothesis is that there was no coherent published rationale for the imposition of faculties in Scottish schools and that this change has met resistance and often scepticism in many Scottish schools. Furthermore, we hypothesize that this change may have been detrimental to the experience of student and beginning teachers and has, in many schools, served to further marginalise RE and perhaps other smaller subjects across the curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2008
EventScottish Educational Research Association: Annual Conference 2008 - Perth, Perth, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Nov 200828 Nov 2008


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association
Abbreviated titleSERA
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Faculty management
  • Religious Education


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