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In Brief

David Henderson reports from the EIS conference in Dundee, where the threat of industrial action over pupil numbers marked the only significant victory for the hard left

* Scottish teachers' four-year pay deal is "quite remarkable" and puts them well above colleagues south of the border, Malcolm Maciver, salaries'

convener, said.

One of his ambitions was to lift members at the top of the new classroom scale above pound;30,000 and that was now going to be achieved by April next year.

Mr Maciver's figures show that the top of the unpromoted scale in England will be pound;28,005 against pound;30,399 north of the border, giving Scottish teachers an 8.5 per cent advantage.

Similarly, chartered teachers would be broadly 6.2 per cent better off than colleagues at the top of the performance-related pay scale in England. But Scottish heads were 27 per cent less well off. The top of the heads' scale in England is pound;93,297 against pound;73,397 in Scotland.

* Primary teachers are "victims of their own professionalism" in covering for absent colleagues, May Ferries, Glasgow, said. It was time to consider sending home children if there was no teacher.

* There are still some authorities that think the August deadline for introducing cuts in primary teachers' class contact time is "somehow flexible", Helen Connor, North Lanarkshire, said. Lack of planning meant the loss of management time for senior primary staff, more composite classes and increases in class size.

* Scotland should follow the Finnish example and opt for "free, well-balanced, nutritious" school meals to counter obesity among young people, Bob McAlpin, Western Isles, said. Costs were high but the scheme paid for itself in terms of better health among children and young adults.

* Moves across the country to abolish principal teachers of subject and create faculties were "ADES's revenge", Larry Flanagan, Glasgow, said.

Education directors had forced through restructuring in secondaries without any educational rationale. It was a cost-saving exercise. One school in the city was proposing six generic faculty heads with no subject relationship.

* The role of the Care Commission in pre-five sector inspections is continuing to be challenged by the union. "We have serious concerns," George MacBride, education convener, said.

* Detention of asylum-seeker children at Dungavel Detention Centre in Strathaven is "an absolute disgrace to Scotland", according to Sheena Wardhaugh, in-coming union president. South Lanarkshire had done everything it could but children were still not allowed to go to their local school.

* Willie Hart, Glasgow, said the UK government had "plumbed the depths of scurrilousness" in proposing pensions changes. In Scotland, 70,000 teachers on the superannuation scheme and 700,000 in England could change Tony Blair's mind, he said (see below).

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