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Golden get-out from Jamieson

HUNDREDS of promoted staff nearing retirement are likely to join the queue for a golden goodbye after ministers put up a further pound;80 million to ease the agonies of the post-McCrone shake-up.

Headteachers, unions and local authorities have been pressing for a transition or change fund to ease the difficulties of reorganising schools and have been rewarded with a pre-election windfall that will give managers some of the flexibility they want.

Many experienced principal teachers in their 50s will find themselves with no post but a conserved salary after new management structures are introduced from August. Some will be candidates for the get-out packages that are almost certain to be on offer.

Some assistant heads, assistant principal teachers and senior teachers will also be eligible.

Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, told the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' conference in St Andrews on Wednesday of the Scottish Executive's commitment to back up the national agreement and announced a further pound;80 million over three years.

"This will ensure authorities are fully covered for the costs of the job-sizing exercise which will come into effect in August, introducing a fair and equitable system of payment for all promoted staff in schools," Ms Jamieson said.

"The new system will introduce a greater certainty for authorities that have been facing equal pay claims and it will introduce a greater flexibility for those looking at new management structures."

The commitment on equal pay is certain to mean more promoted posts in primary after the sector's campaign for fair treatment in the job-sizing exercise. Architects of the scheme have tried to eliminate discrimination against primaries.

Ms Jamieson said the sums on offer would help out councils that have employed teachers "at greater numbers than GAE (grant-aided expenditure) would suggest". The Executive will commission a review of "super-sparsity" before its next spending review, a concession to rural authorities which claim they have been unfairly treated in the division of post-McCrone funds.

Ronnie Smith, Educational Institute of Scotland general secretary, said it was not clear how the money would be spent but added: "If it helps to smooth the implementation process, it's a good thing."

The union has cautioned that authorities would have to balance the need to bring in new blood with the loss of experienced staff. "They could strip the cupboard bare," Mr Smith said.

From the primary side, Kay Hall, president of the Association of Head Teachers in Scotland, said there was "a bit of hope in my heart" that primaries would be dealt with sympathetically. The post-McCrone deal emphasised the presence of full-time managers in primaries, Mrs Hall pointed out.

She is due to lose three senior teachers at West Kilbride primary in North Ayrshire but is now optimistic about securing more management posts.

Pat Watters, president of Cosla, said authorities would discuss how to use their allocation next month.

Ms Jamieson reminded councillors that the Executive had already earmarked an additional pound;282 million for the national agreement over the next three years.

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