Members of Scotland’s primary headteachers’ association have voted overwhelmingly to accept the new teacher pay deal, prompting the organisation to call for the rest of the profession to follow suit.
While acknowledging that its indicative ballot result represents “only a small proportion of the overall teaching workforce”, the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) this morning revealed 90 per cent of its members voted to accept the offer, based on a 75 per cent turnout.
In total, 2,070 primary school leaders were eligible to take part in the ballot, with 1,560 casting a vote. According to the 2017 teacher census, there were 3022 primary heads and deputes working in Scottish schools.
On the table is a rise of 9 per cent as of this April, followed by a further 3 per cent increase in April 2020, which has been described as “the best offer in the public sector anywhere in the United Kingdom” by first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The AHDS result comes in the wake of the decision by the leadership of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, to recommend a rejection of the offer. But because of the wide range of views expressed in an EIS Council meeting, it was decided that the union would put the arguments both for and against the deal in its advice to members.
The EIS is in the process of conducting its own ballot, with the result expected on 22 February. Rejection of the deal could pave the way for the first teacher-led national strike in Scotland since the 1980s.
What’s on the table: The detail of the pay offer
What the unions say: 'It’s for teachers to decide if they find the offer acceptable'
What the government says: ‘Teachers in Scotland deserve fair pay rise’
AHDS general secretary Greg Dempster said the vote was “a very strong signal” that primary school leaders were ready to accept the deal.
“We recognise that the result of our ballot represents only a small proportion of the overall teaching workforce, but we hope that EIS and SSTA [Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association] members will vote in a similar way so that the pay award for 2018-20 can be settled and we can start to progress the other elements contained in the offer, namely the review of job sizing and the review of guidance to tackle excessive workload.”
Our indicative ballot on the current pay offer to teachers in Scotland has closed. Turnout was over 75%. Of those who voted- Accept=90%, Reject=10%. As a leadership association we represent a small part of the teaching workforce but hope others will vote in a similar way.— AHDS (@AHDScotland) February 12, 2019
Headteachers have been arguing for years that the job-sizing toolkit used to determine the salaries attached to promoted posts is not fit for purpose. They say it turns people off headship because a depute in a large school can command a similar salary to the head of a smaller establishment.
Tes Scotland revealed last week that the number of shared headships – with one person leading multiple schools – had risen by 64 per cent between 2010 and 2017. It was also reported that the government working group looking at headteacher recruitment had questioned whether these school leaders – who mainly work in primary – were being properly paid.
The Scottish government commitment to review job sizing would include looking at how heads in these posts are paid.