The teachers' pay arrangements proposed by the management have some similarities with the system south of Hadrian's Wall, and as a measure of how far teachers in Scotland have slipped behind it would be useful to examine the England and Wales scales.
To the Scottish eye the scales are confusing, but a few facts open them up:
* Classroom teachers are paid on a 16-point scale which actually has 33 points. It starts at spine point 1 (pound;14,658) and ends at spine point 16 (pound;37,041) going up in 0.5 increments. Headteachers and other superior beings who are higher up the chain are paid on a different scale.
* There is an invisible bar at spine point 9 (23,193). This is the maximum point which can be reached by age and experience alone. It is, therefore, broadly similar to our Scottish scale point 10 (pound;21,954).
* Extra points are allocated for additional dutiesresponsibilities (not all heads of department in a school will be paid the same), experience outside teaching, recruitmentretention and "excellence". Some of these extra points are mandatory. Some cannot be withdrawn once allocated. Allocation is determined by the governing body of the school and the job description. London allowance is also payable.
The following conclusions can be drawn: 1. Class teachers in Scotland at the top of their scales need at least a pay rise of pound;1,239 (5.64 per cent) to close the gap on their English colleagues. This is an underestimate because it takes no account of the extra scale points which are available to take unpromoted teachers beyond the "bar" at spine point 9.
2. Depending on your level of optimism or cynicism, the English system is either flexible, local and merit based or an inherently unfair crawlers' charter open to manipulation.