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Teacher talks enter a brave new era

It looks the same, sounds the same and yet is totally different. Today (Friday), the brand new Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) is launched, replacing the abandoned Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC), scrapped by last summer's education Act.

The old body, backed with the statutory force of law, was favoured by the unions but disliked by employers and ministers who protested that it gave too much power to teachers' negotiators.

Now the new body, without legal clout, is shaping p to emulate its predecessor but in the more friendly post-McCrone environment.

It will have 22 seats - three from a more proactive Scottish Executive, 11 from the unions and eight from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Ministers expect the union side to contain representation from the primary and secondary headteachers' associations.

The committee is likely to have its first meeting in early April, taking up the tripartite approach adopted in the recent pay and conditions talks.

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