Scottish teachers' wages 'relatively high'

23rd September 2011 at 01:00
Fewer hours worked here than in rest of UK, Bell report says

Scottish teachers earn more than most other professionals if high- earners at the top of the pay ladder are taken out of the equation. They also work fewer hours than teachers elsewhere in the UK for roughly the same pay.

These are among the findings that informed the McCormac review which last week recommended no change in Scottish teachers' salaries or working hours - although it issued a warning about the impact of potential changes to pension arrangements.

Research led by David Bell of Stirling University, commissioned by the McCormac committee, on the pay and conditions of Scottish teachers, describes their hourly pay as "relatively high", although he concedes the gap with other professions has narrowed in recent years.

And although the amount of "unpaid" overtime exceeds that of non-teaching professionals, Scottish teachers appear to do less of it than their counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Bell report's findings on teachers' pay use two different methodologies - examining mean, or average, weekly pay, which casts Scottish teachers' pay in a poor light; and median weekly pay, which puts it in a more favourable position (see graph).

"The explanation lies in the very rapid increase in earnings among non- teaching professionals at the top of the earnings distribution. Large pay increases among this group have led to substantial increases in average pay among non-teaching professionals. Because the numbers involved are relatively small, this has virtually no effect on median pay. Thus, the data on averages conceals the fact that teachers consistently earn more than most other professional groups," says Professor Bell.

He reports that in 2010, teachers in the rest of the UK estimated they worked about 13 hours per week more than employers' estimates, while in Scotland the gap was less than seven hours.

Drew Morrice, EIS assistant secretary, argues that Professor Bell's analysis of teachers' working hours is flawed, because it is based on the Labour Force Survey which uses self-referral data.

"That is nowhere near as authoritative as the research by Ian Menter of Glasgow University for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and does not stand up to scrutiny," he said.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, also disputed the Bell findings on teachers' hours, citing a survey of her members last year which found they worked an average of 55 hours per week.

In the past year, workload and hours had increased, rather than decreased, she added.

Fair pay

In international terms, Scottish teachers are paid above the norm within the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries after 15 years of service.

They fare somewhat worse than their colleagues in Korea, Switzerland, Spain and Japan - but compared with countries such as Norway, Sweden and the United States they are paid "relatively well given Scotland's GDP", says the report by David Bell of Stirling University.

Korea and Finland tend to lead international rankings of student achievement, but while Korean teachers' salaries are substantially above the Scottish average, Finnish teachers' are below it.

This, says Professor Bell, is consistent with the argument that there is no evidence supporting a causal link from teachers' salaries to student achievement.

Original headline: Scottish teachers' wages are shown to be `relatively high'

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