THE OUTLINE of a proposed concordat on the "professional rights and obligations of teachers," built around a 35-hour contractual week, is intended to make sure local negotiations with education authorities and school managements are on the right track. The employers accept that there must be effective consultation with staff if the concordat is to mean anything.
The starting point is that all teachers will have the right to be consulted on their contribution to their school's development plan, which must take account of the staffing and resources necessary to implement it.
The deployment of a teacher's working time is seen as a crucial ingredient, which is in turn dependent for its smooth operation on good relationships between heads and staff.
Although the concordat makes it clear that "a headteacher has the right to expect a teacher to be available for meetings and other collective activities, such activities will be arranged following appropriate consultation".
The draft continues: "Where a teacher is not required to be on the school premises, preparation and correction may be underaken at a time and place of the teacher's own choosing. Teachers will be expected to notify the headteacher of their intentions in this respect."
Teachers should also have some autonomy in deciding on the priority they give to particular tasks. But they have "an obligation to work co-operatively with colleagues and others to pursue the objectives of the service. They also have the right to expect that this work will be controlled and managed within the time available".
The Scottish Executive has already agreed to slim down the national priorities it had proposed for education, one of the Education Minister's earliest moves.
There is therefore likely to be a commitment in the concordat that priorities will remain reasonably constant, that teachers will be expected to contribute to the way they are drawn up, and that schools will have to consult their staff on the pace of change.
Finally, the concordat expresses teachers' involvement in continuous professional development as a right as well as an obligation, stating the importance of their contribution to "a quality service".