A LEGAL bid has been launched to stop Glasgow City Council appointing non-teachers to run nursery schools.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) took action after the council moved to fill 11 vacant posts in nurseries with managers, rather than qualified teachers.
The EIS is seeking a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to stop the move, claiming it should have been consulted.
Union leaders argue removing qualified teachers from posts in the nursery sector will damage the quality of education on offer.
However, the city council believes there is no legal requirement to consult the EIS and says the staff who run nurseries do not need to be qualified teachers because it is more of an administrative role.
Council leader Gordon Matheson has also come under fire after defending the importance of teachers in pre-school education at an education hustings before the council elections in May.
The case, to be heard later this month, cuts to the heart of the tension between the role of a nursery school and whether its primary purpose is to educate or care for the children.
Last month, head teachers, teachers and parents attacked the Scottish Government, arguing the service is being dismantled.
In recent years, councils have replaced teachers with lower-paid child development officers – previously called nursery nurses.
Local authorities argue child development officers are better qualified than ever, following the introduction of qualifications up to degree level, and their use allows them to open nurseries for longer to meet the demands of working parents.
However, research has repeatedly underlined the importance of teachers to the quality of nursery education.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "Teachers are central to the work of nursery schools and will do everything we can to defend the interests of our members in the nursery sector."
Councillor Graeme Hendry, leader of the SNP group in Glasgow, also hit out.
He said: "As Gordon Matheson said at the hustings, teaching staff in nurseries are irreplaceable so it would be utterly hypocritical to try and replace them."
A city council spokeswoman said quality provision was a key priority, adding that it had changed in the last few years, as working practices changed, to match demand from parents.