Hard time in school

9th June 2000 at 01:00
THE much quoted "generosity" of the headline 15 per cent pay increase recommended in the McCrone report is nothing of the sort. The 15 per cent is over two years, thus only 7.5 per cent a year, a figure close to the present 6.4 per cent rise in the Annual Index of Earnings for the United Kingdom. This is only "generous" in relation to the derisory percentage increases granted to teachers and other public servants over many years.

Second, the statement in the report that the present working week is unchanged at 35 hours does not indicate that the "McCrone week" would be very different from the present one.

At present, a teacher is permitted to spend almost all of those 35 hours on "teaching, preparation and correction". Most teachers need at least all of this time for this, and an average of seven hours more is taken.

Under the proposals, five of the 3 hours would not be available. They would be for "contributing to the wider life of the school" (whatever that may mean). This would lead to an increase in the actual working week from 42 to 47 hours - an 11.9 per cent increase.

The nature of the working day itself would become much more oppressive. At present teachers are required to be on school premises for 27.5 hours a week, completing the remaining balance "at a time and place of the teacher's own choosing", with advantages in terms of a teacher's ability to organise work in a convenient and "family friendly" way. The new arrangements appear to mean incarceration on school premises for a further 7.5 hours a week, up to 35 hours.

Third, is not cutting people's holidays by five days and calling it "modernisation" an example of Orwellian doublethink?

Rory Shand

Holburn Road, Aberdeen

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