Space scientist seeks new life in agreement

28th January 2011 at 00:00
Unions fear review of national teachers' deal is a launchpad for further cost savings

The review of the national teachers' agreement struck 10 years ago is to be led by Gerry McCormac, a Belfast-born space scientist who became principal of Stirling University last year.

The teachers' agreement of 2001 - known formally as A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century (TP21) and informally as the "McCrone agreement" - was a landmark deal which marked a significant improvement in teachers' pay and conditions.

But Education Secretary Michael Russell announced late last year it was time for a fundamental review.

His announcement was part of the budget agreement reached between the Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in November. That deal included a pay freeze for teachers, changes to supply teachers' terms and conditions, a freeze on entry to the chartered teachers' programme, loss of salary conservation, an increase in probationers' class contact hours, and a council commitment to provide jobs for the 2,800 probationers who will enter the profession in August.

Professor McCormac's committee is being asked to examine a range of issues related to teacher employment, including whether the agreement:

- is delivering all the benefits that were intended for both teachers and pupils;

- is suited to the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence;

- attracts the most talented people into the teaching profession and promotes strong leadership.

Delivery of CfE strays outside the territory of the original McCrone inquiry. And by making the induction scheme and the chartered teacher programme part of the November budget deal, the Government and local authorities already stand accused by teaching unions of prejudging the outcome of the review.

Mr Russell said: "McCrone has undoubtedly delivered a well-paid, highly- qualified, professional workforce.

"However, a lot has changed in the past decade, most notably the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, which provides new challenges for teachers and pupils, and we need to ensure we continue to attract the right kind of people into the profession to deliver this new approach to learning and teaching."

The recommendations in the Donaldson review of teacher education would complement this review, he added.

Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "The means by which the Scottish Government and local authorities arrived at a shopping list of conditions they required to be met brings into question their commitment to the principles that underpin the 2001 agreement."

He told The TESS the review had nothing to do with educational value, but everything to do with cost savings.

The Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, meanwhile, heard from the union side last week that if teachers were to maintain their current status, they should receive a pay increase of 3.3 per cent.

Realistically, few expect teachers to be offered anything other than a pay freeze, and local authorities and the Government maintained that pound;60 million of savings had to be found through changes in teachers' terms and conditions.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

  • Original headline: Space scientist to seek out new life in McCrone agreement

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