Scottish teachers now know what their pay will look like for the next three years after a surprisingly swift settlement last week in the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.
The existing four-year deal, which ends next April, will be succeeded by a three-year agreement which all parties in the SNCT said will bring "stability" to pay and industrial relations. The settlement will see salaries rise by 7.86 per cent - 2.25 per cent in 2008-09, 2.5 per cent in 2009-10 and 2.4 per cent in 2010-11.
An extra 0.5 per cent will be payable this year as a result of a "trigger" clause that allowed negotiations to be re-opened if inflation breached the levels assumed in 2004. This looked like being a stumbling block but was soon resolved.
As a result of the agreement, probationer teachers' salaries will rise from pound;19,878 now to pound;21,438 by 2010; newly qualified teachers will go from pound;23,841 to pound;25,716; the top basic pay for unpromoted teachers will move from pound;31,707 to pound;34,200; and the 19-point scale for heads and deputes will increase from pound;39,207-pound;76,527 to pound;42,288-pound;82,542.
The deal means heads in the largest schools will get an extra pound;6,000 over three years, but their organisations wanted 10 per cent on top of that to make headship more attractive and avoid a recruitment crisis - a claim which enraged the teaching unions.
Greg Dempster, general secretary of the primary heads' association, said the result of the negotiations showed that the unions were "focused on issues facing classroom teachers, where they do a very good job, but much less interested in issues affecting school leaders".
There is no explicit deal this time on an inflation-busting clause, but the SNCT did accept it should "monitor movements in prices and wages generally" and "consider evidence on the recruitment and retention of teachers". This has been interpreted as an acknowledgment that the value of the 2001 teachers' agreement could be eroded and that "another McCrone" inquiry might be required, as one put it.
The smaller unions were not so welcoming of the deal as the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the Professional Association of Teachers said it did not compensate teachers for the erosion in pay which occurred during the period of the current award.