Teachers in West Dunbartonshire will vote this weekend whether to hold a second one day strike in a dispute over council cuts.

The EIS teaching union is balloting members over the most recent West Dunbartonshire Council proposals on a restructure of senior posts in secondary schools at Clydebank High, St Peter the Apostle, Dumbarton Academy, Vale of Leven Academy and Our Lady and St Patrick's High School aimed at saving £600,000.

If members reject the council's proposals, a one-day strike is planned for Thursday [February 18], followed by stricter work to contract action.

The council plans to cut depute head teachers, reduce the number of department head teachers by combining subjects into faculties with one senior post, and to slash the number of pastoral care teachers, formerly known as guidance.

The union fears the changes will pile more work on teachers already complaining of 'burnout', hit pupil attainment and result in senior teachers heading up faculties of subjects they have no experience in.

The council denies this and claims the changes will bring the local authority in line with others in Scotland and benefit pupils.

The long-running dispute resulted in one-day strike last month and since then EIS members teachers able to have been working to contract.

Ongoing negotiations have so far failed to resolve the stand-off and now the EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan has written to the council leader Martin Rooney calling on the ruling Labour administration to "postpone indefinitely" the creation of a faculty structure and to review the impact of pastoral care changes on the most vulnerable pupils.

Mr Flanagan wrote that this would be "the only hope of avoiding such further strike action and I would urge that you give this both serious and immediate consideration".

He said that a loss of subject leadership due to faculty arrangements had been cited as a problem with the new national qualifications being introduced in secondary schools across Scotland.

He added: "And yet, at a point where others are starting to see the problems of faculties and, indeed, in some council areas roll back previous changes, West Dunbartonshire is belatedly seeking to introduce them. The EIS believes you should learn from the mistakes of others — not repeat them.

"The EIS view is that there is no logic in lumping together disparate subjects as PE and Home Economics, or Art and Music, simply because they are part of a broader generic grouping such as Health and Well-being — they remain distinct subject areas which demand subject expertise in the leadership of the departments.

"Even in terms of the proposals being considered by your officials to address the dispute, there is a cost attached which appears to be approaching circa £100,000. The "savings" attached to creating faculties is virtually gone on this basis. Why then continue to pursue at all costs the introduction of faculties, a course of action which will lead to more strike action in the immediate future and a legacy of ill trust moving forward?

Mr Rooney replied: "I am disappointed that the EIS is unhappy with the management changes being implemented by council officers. It is always our desire to have positive, constructive employee relations. This is why our team has worked hard to develop a number of significant, supportive measures in an attempt to reach a joint solution. My understanding is that to date, the EIS has not proposed any concessions."

The council leader said several options had been put forward, including a reduction in workload including removal of some reports and other paperwork which was rejected.

Other options proposed are to delay changes to pupil support; create three flexible temporary principal teachers posts across the five schools until April 2017; create 10 principal teacher posts to support either pastoral teams or curriculum teams, to be reviewed in April 2017.

The council has also offered to create two additional new posts to support the changes to the new model, in addition to one of the options above.

Mr Rooney added: "While I accept the term ‘faculties’ is widely used at present, it does not fully reflect the wider aspects of the secondary schools management restructure. The revised structure of promoted posts designed around Curriculum for Excellence, supports future educational provision. Increasingly rapid changes to the real-world needs of our young people will have to be supported by prinical teachers leading a wider range of educational experiences, often beyond traditional subject confines.

"The ideas of leadership and specialism seem to be conflated in your warning over 'loss of subject leadership'. I assure you that we retain subject expertise at all levels across the council. In fact, our model of support to deliver the new qualifications and our approaches to moderation and verification using expertise at all levels has been recognised nationally as sector leading by ADES and SQA."

He said it is wrong to claim the savings do not exist and that the new faculty model would replace a "significantly outdated model".

He added: "For example, instead of viewing Art and Music as discrete areas the revised model will serve our young people better by developing their creative and aesthetic skills.

"Regarding your issue of pastoral care, I understand our secondary schools have additional staffing which takes account of deprivation. This is not limited to pupil support.

"Our education service has made considerable effort to meet your members’ concerns, and in fact the interim measures to introduce promoted posts with flexible remits, is a generous concession."