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Bridging the gap on McCrone

THE special conference of the Educational Institute of Scotland (page six) shows a determination to concentrate on limited improvements to the McCrone recommendations in the series of talks now going on with the Executive and employers. Despite the best efforts of the union radicals, an all-out assault on McCrone is not on the agenda. That is partly because sections of the report come as close to teachers' hopes as they could expect (too close for the comfort of some council leaders), and partly because outright rejection would meet with public abhorrence.

Conditions of service matter more to teachers, it seems, than a straight pay award. McCrone went some way to meeting demands on salaries, whereas pressure of work continues to men that most teachers want freedom to use their non-classroom time as they see fit rather than, as they fear, being subject to yet more injunctions and supervision.

They already work the hours, they say. It is the role of a professional to determine the way they are used. Since political leaders have been loud in praise of teachers' professionalism, not least in the wake of the exams fiasco, it would seem perverse to hem them in.

The employers fear that conditions of service devised for the seventies and eighties will persist. They want a return for the extra money they will have to invest, but in the end their main fight is with the Executive to bridge the huge gap between McCrone's costings and their own estimates.

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