THE most radical review of the teaching profession in Scotland for a generation was unveiled last week with the publication of the McCrone report.
Significant pay increases and the creation of a new category of "superteachers" are among the key recommendations from former government economist Gavin McCrone. They will now be considered by a Scottish Executive committee and, if accepted, come into effect on April 1, 2002.
But how do these measures, the fruits of an inquiry set up by the Executive, compare to the pound;1 billion package outlined in Education Secretary David Blunkett's 1998 Green Paper for the future of teaching in England and (with some modifications) Wales?
The promise of better pay and a new career structure in return for strong performance dominates both. But unions south of the border will seize on McCrone's recommendation that pay should not be linked to pupils' results. Scotland's teachers are breathing a sigh of relief that, unlike the English, pupils' exam grades will play no part in their assessment.
Instead, in return for compulsory training and losing a week's holiday, they can expect to enjoy salary increases of around 15 per cent across the board. Under the proposals, starting salaries will go up by more than pound;2,000 to pound;17,425, overtaking the pound;16,050 received by most graduate entrants in England and Wales.
In contrast to the Green Paper, there is no recommendation that trainees should undergo numeracy and literacy tests.
Minimum pay for teachers who have completed the two-year probation period will rise by almost pound;3,000 to pound;19,475 and the maximum on the old classroom scale will be pound;26,650, compared to the current limit of pound;23,313.
However, to encourage good teachers to stay in the classroom rather than being forced into management, McCrone also sets out the framework for a new category of "chartered teacher" and "advanced chartered teacher".
Becoming one of tese would be similar to passing the new threshold to a higher pay scale in England and Wales. The move would allow the best classroom teachers to earn up to pound;35,000.
The report says headteachers in Scotland should be able to earn up to pound;63,038, a figure significantly less than the pound;70,000 limit proposed by Mr Blunkett.
As in England and Wales, headteachers would also be given the flexibility to make modest payments to staff doing specific time-limited tasks, such as a curricular review, and for those undertaking duties beyond their normal responsibilities.
The Scottish report goes further than the Green Paper's rather general call for "a drive to reduce bureaucratic burdens" by recommending professional administrators or "bursars" for larger schools, with smaller schools being grouped together in administrative clusters.
Like Mr Blunkett, McCrone also calls for a greater use of classroom assistants.
A less popular feature of McCrone's report will be the recommendation that teachers should lose one week's holiday. This would provide 10 days annually for continuous professional development courses: double the number in England and Wales.
The report suggests each teacher should have an individual development plan agreed each year. Nevertheless, early reaction to the report's recommendations though cautious, was not dismissive. The biggest question is whether the Scottish Executive will be willing to find the pound;234 million to pay for it.
"A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century", the report of the McCrone Inquiry, including proposed new pay scales, is on the Internet at www.mccronecommittee.org.uk
THE McCRONE REPORT
* Pay increases of 15 per cent across the board.
* New category of "chartered teacher".
* Performance pay not linked to pupils' results.
* One week's holiday given up for training.
* Professional administrators or "bursars" appointed
to reduce burden of red tape. 'The report suggests teachers should lose one week's holiday for professional development'