LOCAL authorities and the teaching unions are not far apart on the McCrone report, Paul Williamson, Edinburgh's education convener, told a headteachers' seminar in the city last week.
A comparison of the city's original submission and the inquiry's recommendations showed that McCrone had come up with more than 90 per cent of its aims for a restructured teaching profession.
Mr Williamson said: "When it comes down to what realistically we want to achieve, we are not far apart at all. We want to see teachers better rewarded and given more responsibility for taking education forward."
But implementing the inquiry's findings in the three-year timescale would add 25 per cent to the council's revenue budget. Mr Williamson believed that the negotiators would have to reassess their priorities. "What do you sacrifice and what do you keep without completely unravelling the package?" he asked.
City officials contend that there should be no retreat from the McCrone plan for a 35-hour week for teachers with five days, or equivalet time, added for continuing professional development. They argue for extra training and study to be treated flexibly.
Roy Jobson, Edinburgh's director of education, appealed for a broad view of the package. "Some things have been left hanging, such as the plans for sabbaticals. If you are looking for a well-
motivated workforce, you do not look just at the financial end. It's quite difficult to sustain a teaching career of 30-40 years without some opportunities to refresh and remotivate," Mr Jobson said.
Early retirement plans, another area left in the balance, are causing concern, officials admitted. It made no sense with a looming teacher supply crisis to allow many experienced staff to quit in one go. A "winding down" scheme would offer more appeal.
Heads told the seminar that McCrone had failed to appreciate the role of depute heads and called for a specified number two in the new management grade.
Primary and secondary heads also remain divided about parity of pay scales.
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