Deal could spell disaster

26th November 2010 at 00:00

The Scottish Government's deal with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities will damage Scottish education and have a negative impact in schools. Budget cuts will lead to a cull of teachers on short-term contracts to create the impression that more new teachers will gain jobs next year.

Recently-qualified teachers will be cast aside and left on the scrapheap. This smacks more of job-rotation than job creation. It is a revolving door for new teachers. For those lucky enough to gain some supply work, the situation will get worse too. The proposals include provision for all supply teachers to be paid at the same low rate at the bottom of the pay scale.

By picking on people with precarious employment contracts and seeking to pay them less than the going rate for their work, the Scottish Government and Cosla will threaten the availability of supply teachers, particularly in more rural areas.

It is disingenuous to establish an independently-chaired review of the agreement on A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, which is to begin its work only after key changes to the deal are set to be concluded. All that will be left for the review is to rake over the ashes of what has been one of the most progressive and productive agreements struck in the public sector in recent years.

For employers and Government to seek to tear up key elements of the deal that they do not like risks damaging the good work on enhancing teacher professionalism which was integral to the agreement.

If the Scottish Government and Cosla take this path, the damage will be considerable. The pay freeze, the rising cost of living and planned increases to teachers' pension contributions will cut significantly the living standards of all teachers in Scotland. Once again, teaching will become an unattractive career option, ultimately leading to staff shortages.

We face a serious attack on teacher professionalism and pay and conditions. We risk a demoralised, demotivated and depleted teacher workforce, and the big losers will be our children, who will face larger class sizes, teacher shortages and a reduced quality of educational experience.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland.

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