A headline 2.5 per cent pay award to teachers in England will be the marker for Scottish teachers when they renew their salary negotiations in the new year.
After the three-year post-McCrone deal, pay talks will once again resume between unions, local authorities and the Scottish Executive in the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and the announcement this week south of the border is unlikely to be far away from the final figures.
A two-and-half year award by the independent School Teachers Review Body in England will mean rises of 2.5 per cent next April and in April 2005, followed by 3.25 per cent in September 2005. Rises are tied to inflation forecasts.
For the first time, salaries will be tied to the school year and not the financial year. A further review will be triggered if inflation outstrips 3.25 per cent.
Unions warn that the award could end up being a pay cut as inflation rises along with mortgage rates. Unions say inflation is already at 2.8 per cent.
Doug McAvoy, National Union of Teachers general secretary, dubbed the award a pay freeze and warned that it would do nothing to improve recruitment and retention problems. "By one route or another this Government will ensure teaching on the cheap," Mr McAvoy warned.
Graham Lane, education authorities' spokesman south of the border, said the deal was what employers wanted. It was not a mean settlement as teachers would also receive rises through the incremental pay structure.