Headteacher organisations have joined forces in asking the Scottish Government to reflect their responsibilities in their salary increases.In an unprecedented move, Scotland's two headteacher organisations have submitted a joint pay claim, pitched at 10 per cent on top of whatever they get as part of any deal for all teachers.
The Headteachers' Association of Scotland, representing the secondary sector, and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, whose members are in primaries, believe it is time for significant salary hikes to reflect the mounting demands on heads and deputes and the difficulty of persuading staff to move into senior posts.
Greg Dempster, general secretary of the AHDS, said: "We recognise that Scotland has had a tighter financial settlement from the Treasury than expected. But if we are serious about improving school leadership, we've got to take action."
The submission says there has to be recognition of "the increased workload for senior staff, given the growth in initiatives and management restructuring".
Mr Dempster adds that heads and deputes in primary schools are particularly disadvantaged: "They are in the classroom more often, which means they have less time to devote to the day job of managing their schools - while the responsibilities of the day job have also grown."
Neither of the heads' organisations has separate bargaining rights on the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, and their claim is symbolic at best. It will rely on the goodwill of the teaching unions, principally the Educational Institute of Scotland, to advance their cause. But since the HAS and AHDS walked out of the teachers' side in national negotiations, their appearance on what one key union member described as "the moral high ground" is unlikely to wash with teachers' leaders.
The key date of the next round of pay talks is November 23, when the EIS council meets to approve its salaries strategy. Local authorities, government officials and the unions convene as members of the SNCT on November 26, when the teachers' pay claim will be tabled. A three-year deal is on the cards, as with the previous two settlements, and the heads' claim would cover that period, starting on April 1, 2008.
Bill McGregor, general secretary of the HAS, conceded that "it might go nowhere at all". But he warned: "If the unions refuse to support it, that will send out a very clear signal to school management teams who are members of the EIS and the other teacher organisations that their unions are not interested in securing a fair pay settlement for them."
There is also a message for the Government, Mr McGregor added. "It is constantly punting the leadership agenda and the importance of good quality leaders in schools, including headteachers. So we're saying 'put your money where your mouth is'."
Scottish heads are particularly conscious that they are slipping behind in the pay league, compared with their colleagues south of the border. Heads in England Wales outside London can earn as much as pound;98,000 (rising to pound;104,600 in London), compared with pound;76,500 in Scotland.
"As things stand at present, wherever we get the heads of the future from in Scotland, they won't be enticed from south of the border," Mr Dempster commented.
Mr McGregor said the 10 per cent plus claim they have submitted would only bring Scottish heads less than half-way to the salary position of their English counterparts. Parity would require a 25 per cent increase. "So we actually think we're being quite reasonable," he commented.
The headteachers' organisations are also pursuing their long-standing grievance against the "iniquitous" job-sizing toolkit, as their pay submission describes it.
The HAS and AHDS blame job-sizing, part of the national teachers' agreement, for the growing recruitment in school leadership. Staff appointed to promoted posts after April 2001 do not enjoy permanent salary conservation, unlike those appointed before the teachers' agreement. So, if the pupil rolls drops or key parts of their job change, they face having their salaries cut.
The two organisations also point out that, as a result of job-sizing, many principal teachers are being paid as much as, if not more than, deputes. This reduces the incentive to become a depute, they argue, which then diminishes the pool of potential heads.
Fiona Hyslop, the Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary, has already given notice that the SNP Government would tackle job-sizing if it was seen as a barrier to improving the management of schools. She intends publishing her plans for educational leadership by the end of the year.