Value for money

1st December 2006 at 00:00
proof is needed that the pound;2.15 billion spent implementing the teachers' agreement since 2001 has been value for money, a parliamentary committee has found.

Although the teachers' agreement has improved morale, a report by the audit committee, published today, found that inadequate monitoring by the Scottish Executive meant that its effectiveness could not be measured.

The committee's findings concur with an Audit Scotland report, published in May, on the tri-partite agreement. It backed its findings that terms and conditions for teachers, recruitment and retention, and continuing professional development had improved, and the induction scheme had been successful.

But Brian Monteith, chairman, said: "We understand the urgency of the situation at the time the agreement was made. The failure to set outcome measures, however, makes it difficult to determine whether value for money has been delivered."

He added that for such major programmes of expenditure "costing models must be based on sound information and outcome measures should be in place in order to determine whether value for money is ultimately achieved".

The committee came to its conclusion despite strong defence of the agreement from senior officials in the Scottish Executive. Mike Ewart, the head of its education department, described the agreement as "repairing decades of neglect which was a necessary precondition for the development of Scottish education, for which we need the full engagement of the teaching profession".

The committee recommended Audit Scotland should use the forthcoming HMIE report on the implementation of the agreement, expected before Christmas, to investigate further whether it has provided value for money.

MSPs identified a number of challenges facing the deal. These included the falling number of applications for head and depute jobs, ensuring morale stays high as promotion opportunities change and the take-up of the chartered teacher scheme.

The audit committee was concerned that heads had been covering classes to meet reductions in class contact time. It said local authorities needed to prove they had met the target of teachers working a 35-hour week, with the maximum 22.5 hours class teaching.

* The audit committee's full report: www.tes.co.ukscotland

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