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A map for progress

THE recommendations bear similarities with those of the Millennium Review that flopped last year. But the tone and authority of the McCrone report are very different. Whereas the review by the local authorities and teacher unions read like a primary maths exercise in finding the lowest common denominator, McCrone has seized the opportunity to map out a picture of the profession for the new century - more focused, less hidebound by past practices, better rewarded.

Some of the drawbacks of the Millennium Review that led to its overwhelming rejection remain. The sanctity of the secondary subject department would still be breached because the title of principal teacher would imply possible responsibilities beyond a specific subject. Extra time for work outside the classroom is also in McCrone. The vexed question of class sizes isducked.

But if the Executive's impending consultations culminate in an underwriting of the main recommendations in the report, substantial investment will be unlocked. Teachers will then be faced with a choice denied them last year when they did not know what they would be gaining in surrendering defensive positions. Now their future salary levels and career prospects would be spelt out. The McCrone committee is keen to see a happier and more efficient profession and one that is less self-serving. It is asking for a mature decision by teachers after appropriate detailed scrutiny of complex recommendations.

But in education it is never a case of saying, one leap and we are free: our report (page one) about shortages in secondary schools shows that investment in modernisation has to go well beyond the teachers.

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