Justice on pay for primary heads

IT IS surprising that initial coverage of the McCrone report gave so little attention to the victory of primary headteachers in their battle for salary parity with secondary colleagues. Not that the committee went out of its way to signal acceptance of the longstanding demands from primary schools. It merely pointed out that "the senior management team in smaller primary schools are paid less than principal teachers in large secondaries, despite their significantly broader responsibilities", and recommended a structure that "creates, as far as possible, an integrated framework for the different sectors".

The Association of Head Teachers in Scotland has taken its case to tribunals but there was no sign that ministers were willing to listen. Now that McCrone has thrown its weight beind primary heads and sought a general blurring of the remaining distinctions between the sectors, it will be harder to ignore them (not least because the heads' associations are likely to grab places at the negotiating table).

Secondary heads will not lightly surrender the case for higher pay, although an all-round hike for heads would mollify them. Many regard the intellectual and management qualities necessary to run a complex secondary as different from those required in a primary head. It is rare indeed for a former secondary head to argue the contrary case, as David Nicholson does in a letter this week (page two).

The law of supply and demand supports McCrone and the primary heads. Posts are hard to fill. The pressure is now on the Education Minister to act.


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