Cosla pushes for extended teacher year
Continuing professional development is being targeted by the local authorities' umbrella body Cosla in its bid to persuade the McCormac review that teachers should adopt more flexible working terms and conditions.
The current 35 hours' annual CPD allowance encourages a "formulaic or even tokenistic" approach, argues Cosla in its submission to the review of teacher employment.
To the outrage of teacher unions, it proposes an extension of the teacher year - but not the pupil year - so that extra in-service days can be delivered in a block, rather than individual days which cause disruption to working parents.
Cosla says it wants to "recalibrate" the current arrangements for CPD under the national teachers' agreement so that CPD no longer has to be levered into an "artificial notional number of hours".
The McCormac committee is expected to produce its report in September. Its recommendations will then be considered by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, made up of Cosla, the Scottish Government and the teacher unions.
Cosla wants to broaden the definition of CPD to make more use of mentoring, leadership development, job shadowing, coaching and communities of practice.
And it envisages teachers being required to undertake some CPD outwith the teaching week. It also advocates that it should be delivered internally - either within a school or local authority.
CPD should be more explicitly linked to teachers' annual performance reviews to ensure it is more closely linked to councils' educational objectives, it adds.
Controversially, it also proposes that CPD should become part of any mandatory re-accreditation process with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, warned that such a move would create a direct link between reaccreditation and competence, something the GTCS had explicitly ruled out.
Teachers would not agree to attempts by Cosla to lengthen their working year, warned Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS union.
"If they (councils) think they can slash and burn CPD budgets and then ramp up the volume of CPD by lengthening the working year for teachers, that's a cul de sac taking them nowhere. I really can't see us agreeing to let that happen," he said.
He added that Cosla's implied criticism of current CPD arrangements had nothing to do with the core terms of the teachers' agreement, but more to do with the way they had been managed.
"Teachers are entitled to, and local authorities are obliged to provide, up to 35 hours of CPD. If that has been done in a haphazard way, that is a terrible indictment of their stewardship of the current system," he added.
KEY POINTS IN COSLA'S SUBMISSION TO THE McCORMAC COMMITTEE
The primary role for a teacher should not be to teach children but should be articulated in terms of ensuring the development, well-being and safety of children. This is the primary role that teachers should share with other children's services professionals.
The prescribed set of duties in Annex B of the teachers' agreement should be reconfigured as a set of standards, competencies and responsibilities that are geared towards improving the professional duties required of all teachers.
Staff in promoted posts should be contracted to the authority rather than a specific establishment: this would ensure that resources are deployed effectively according to need.
There should be flexibility to move staff between sectors - for example by enabling primary heads to become secondary heads.
More pay differentiation is needed between deputy heads and principal teachers in primary schools.
The jump from main grade teacher to a promoted post of curricular leader within revised, flatter structures is too large. Offering fixed-term additional responsibilities would help bridge this gap.
Working at "a time and place of the teacher's own choosing" runs counter to the idea of collegiate working. While it is necessary to have a limit on maximum teaching time, the demarcation of time into modules of marking and preparation, assessment and reporting, professional meetings, parents' meetings etc is unhelpful and restrictive.
Schools could move from a 35-hours-per-week model to a 14090 four-week model or even a term cycle. This would enhance timetabling and ensure that teachers have sufficient time out of the classroom.
Primary teachers should lose their 2.5 hours per week non-contact time to allow the delivery of continuous teaching by one teacher for a full pupil week.
Heads should be appointed on renewable or rolling contracts.
The current chartered teacher scheme has not had a significant impact on learning and teaching quality and the pay grade for chartered teachers creates too great a differential. If the scheme cannot make a greater impact on pupil learning, it should be scrapped and replaced by flexible short-term payments to teachers for special projects or duties.
A teacher's relationship with non-teachers such as artists, sports coaches and members of the business community should be reassessed to give non- teachers a greater role in the classroom and beyond.
In this new time of austerity, our watchwords in local government are affordability and sustainability.