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Criticism of chartered teacher plan sparks review

Proof is needed that the pound;2.15 billion spent implementing the teachers' agreement since 2001 has been good value for money, a parliamentary committee has found.

Although the teacher's agreement has improved morale in the profession, a report by the audit committee published today found that inadequate monitoring by the Scottish Executive meant that its effectiveness could not be measured.

The committee's findings concur with an Audit Scotland report, published in May, on the tri-partite agreement. The committee backed its findings that terms and conditions for teachers, recruitment and retention, and continuing professional development had improved, and that the teacher induction scheme had been successful.

But Brian Monteith, the committee's chairman, said: "We understand the urgency of the situation within the teaching profession at the time the agreement was made. The failure, however, to set outcome measures at the outset makes it difficult to determine whether value for money has been delivered."

He added that the committee took the view that for such major programmes of expenditure, "costing models must be based on sound information and outcome measures should be in place in order to determine whether value for money is ultimately achieved."

The audit committee came to its conclusion despite strong defence of the agreement from senior officials in the Scottish Executive. Mike Ewart, the head of its education department, described the agreement in evidence to the committee in September as "repairing decades of neglect which was a necessary precondition for the development of Scottish education, for which we need the full engagement of the teaching profession".

The committee recommended Audit Scotland should use the forthcoming HM Inspectorate of Education report on the implementation of the teachers'

agreement, expected before Christmas, to investigate further whether it has provided value for money.

The MSPs identified a number of challenges facing the deal. These included the falling number of applications for headteacher and depute jobs, ensuring morale stays high as promotion opportunities change and the take-up of the chartered teacher scheme (see this page).

The audit committee was also concerned that headteachers had been covering classes to meet reductions in class contact time. It said local authorities needed to prove they had met the target of teachers working a 35-hour week, with the maximum of 22.5 hours class teaching.

* The audit committee's full report can be read on www.tes.co.ukscotland

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