Plans for two of Kirkcaldy’s primary schools to share a head teacher in a “twinning” arrangement have met with a mixed reaction.
While both of the schools’ parent teacher groups have welcomed the move, some parents with children at Capshard, with a roll of 300 pupils, said they weren’t so sure.
The arrangement will see Caroline Bruce, head teacher at Torbain, which currently has 520 pupils, take over the helm of both schools from August, the first such pilot in Kirkcaldy.
And, while the process is being tried at schools in other parts of Fife, some parents expressed concerns that it would be a huge undertaking, while others said it would just be a question of waiting to see how it works out.
The move has come about at the end of a two-year secondment of acting head teacher Angela Welsh to Capshard, and will be trialled for two years at the schools.
Letters sent to parents at Capshard said: “As we look towards the final stages of Mrs Welsh’s two year secondment as acting headteacher at Capshard, we have been reflecting upon how best to move forward in terms of the leadership of the school.”
I believe that this an is an excellent opportunity for both schools who have similar vision and valuesCaroline Bruce, Torbain Primary headteacher
It said a range of options were considered with the Friends of Capshard group involved in the decision process.
The letter described Torbain as “a very successful school” and highlighted its recent successful inspection report. It also said that more money would be available to free up deputes from teaching duties.
“Both schools will continue to retain their own identity whilst strengthening their own practices.
The staff teams in both schools will look for opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other’s practice,” it stated.
A similar letter sent to Torbain parents said: “There are many similarities between Capshard and Torbain for example in terms of the geographical area of the schools, their activities and ways of working and their shared association with Kirkcaldy High School. With this in mind we have approached the Parent Council groups of both schools to seek their views. Both groups have indicated their support on moving forward with this initiative.
“The aim behind the twinning is to explore more effective ways of working across schools, enabling each school to fully develop to excellence of practice in its widest sense. Currently Torbain and Capshard already work well together as two of the four feeder schools into Kirkcaldy High but there’s scope to do more.”
Reviews will be carried out during the trial period and feedback sent to parents at both schools.
Mrs Bruce said: “I believe that this an is an excellent opportunity for both schools who have similar vision and values. The schools are geographically very close to each other and share pupils across the catchment at present. We will aim to look closely at the good work in both schools in order to offer more flexibility which will in turn create opportunities for the pupils, parents and staff of each school with fairness and equity at the core.”
Mrs Welsh said she had enjoyed her time at Capshard, adding: “I will work to support the transition as fully as I can. Mrs Bruce and I already work closely together on a number of projects and I can see lots of scope for developing that partnership to the benefit of both schools.”
Parent Council views
The news has been welcomed by the parent councils from both schools which issued the following statements.
Torbain Parent Council: “We are excited to be part of this leadership model. We are confident that is a good move for both Torbain and Capshard primary schools.”
Capshard Parent Council: “We are looking forward to this union of schools and are maintaining a positive outlook for the future of Capshard.”
Mark Somerville (43), said: “We got letters home just a month or so ago telling us about this and to be honest I am not that keen on the idea because it seems a lot for one person.
Time will tell how well it will work.
“Both schools seem to have plenty of deputes, so maybe they will end up taking on a lot of the day to day work. Hopefully there won’t be any downturn in pupil support and the school’s performance.”
Gail Hay (45), added: “My son ended up going to Torbain Nursery because there wasn’t room for him at Capshard, and I was quite impressed with the school. Hopefully it will be a good thing for both schools.
“I think the deputes are getting more responsibilities, so it shouldn’t impact too much. Head teachers these days are more like business heads, dealing with budgets and things.”
Another parent, who did not wish to be named added: “I am not really too happy about it because they have said that deputes will have work taken off them, but they struggle to find teaching cover as it is. There’s not a lot we can do about it as it has all been decided and we only had one letter.”
And another said: “It is obviously a cost saving exercise but I am open to new ideas and it will be interesting to see how it works. I just hope it goes well because I don’t want it to impact negatively on my child.”