SCOTTISH teachers have sacrificed larger pay increases to maintain decent class sizes, Malcolm Maciver, the Educational Institute of Scotland's salaries' convener, has admitted.
Writing in today's TESS and ahead of next week's EIS annual conference, Mr Maciver accepts Scottish teachers have fallen marginally behind colleagues south of the border.
But English teachers have paid the penalty in rising class sizes, he points out. In the last decade class sizes have deteriorated by 6 per cent in England and improved by 3 per cent in Scotland.
Mr Maciver leads the teachers' side on the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee which last week finalised this year's no-strings 3 per cent pay deal with employers. It adds pound;32 million to the pay bill.
The agreement raises the salary of a teacher at the top of the scale by pound;639, from pound;21,315 to pound;21,934. A principal teacher's salary will rise from pound;24,048 to pound;24,768, an increase of pound;720.
The money is backdated to April 1 and should be in pay packets by the end of June.
Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, said it was "disappointing" teachers were falling further behind colleagues south of the border, who won an end-loaded 3.8 per cent deal.
Scottish teachers were also receiving an increase which fell below cost of living increases.
"While I believe that this is in the short term the best deal available in very difficult circumstances, I am in no doubt that if there is no agreement soon on a fair level of pay which properly acknowledges the value of the work done by teachers that discontent could turn very quickly to anger and resentment, Mr Smith said.
"Without fair levels of pay, it will grow more and more difficult to attract the best of our graduates into the teaching profession," he added.
As part of the deal, the employers and unions agreed to set up an SJNC subcommittee in August to progress talks on higher salaries, the reform of promoted posts in secondaries and plans to keep good teachers in the classroom.
Both sides want negotiations completed by the end of December. Preparatory work in the millennium review on management and conditions in schools should be completed over the summer.
Platform, page 14