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Squeezed out

WITH around three weeks to the end of the session, the second part of the post-McCrone agreement is slipping into place. Teachers already have a 10 per cent initial rise tucked up in their holiday funds and are waiting on the details of how the 35-hour week, beginning in August, will pan out. The new working week is nothing less than a substantial victory for the unions and teachers south of the border look north with envy. Equally, some local authority leaders and headteachers fear they may have conceded too much for too little.

A key union aim has always been control of workload and local talks have emphasised that. It is a legitimate concern. But how far should deals spell out precise timings that limit activities and where does the new professionlism begin and end? These are important, and unravelling, matters.

School sports enthusiasts, for example, are being pulled in different directions (page five). They want teachers, including themselves, to commit time to school activities - either within the hours or outwith - but they recognise the demands of the new professionalism. Teachers will spend more time on courses, pursuing their careers and the hard educational agenda, probably at the expense of the extracurricular.

There is a commonsense approach in Dumfries and Galloway's post-McCrone agreement, published this week, which declares: "This is a trial year and it is unlikely that answers will be found to all issues which arise."

Something about pint-pots comes to mind.

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