Teachers offering out-of-hours classes to students in some parts of Scotland are paid twice as much as their counterparts elsewhere, a new survey suggests.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, which conducted the research, has called for teachers taking on extra duties outside school hours, such as revision classes or holiday tuition, to be paid at the same rate across Scotland.
At its annual congress last week, the SSTA passed a motion urging councils to revisit their policies on additional supported study, after its research uncovered massive discrepancies in the level of remuneration teachers receive.
Hourly rates of pay vary from pound;17 to pound;38, according to John Guidi, the union's district secretary in East Renfrewshire, who carried out the study. Meanwhile, in a number of local authorities teachers who lead sessions in their own time receive no additional pay.
"Some authorities do not offer any form of payment," Mr Guidi said. "In fact, they do not offer `supported study', but it seems that a small number of teachers offer their service for free."
With pupils and teachers getting to grips with new National qualifications, Mr Guidi said that out-of-hours classes were becoming increasingly common in schools.
"Teachers who offer supported study often say they don't do it for the money, they do it for the pupils," he said. "The position at present is that [some] authorities recognise the value of supported study and others don't. It's not fair and it's not equitable.
"I call on the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers to review and implement a consistent and professional rate of pay for teachers undertaking supported study, considering the time spent with the pupils and the time required for preparation."
His concerns were echoed by SSTA colleague James Cowans, who argued that the demand for extra help "pulled on [teachers'] emotions and goodwill to make sure students achieve".
However, Peter Thorburn, the union's district secretary for Dundee, cautioned that although he agreed there was a need for consistent pay, any move by the union risked making extra work seem expected rather than voluntary.
Pay, conditions and workload dominated the agenda at the congress in Crieff, with concerns also raised over a potential retirement age of 68 for teachers.
Attracting high-quality recruits
In his first report as general secretary, Seamus Searson told members that teaching had to be made an attractive profession to "encourage the retention of high-quality teachers and recruit the highest-quality people into the profession".
"[Local authorities' body] Cosla and the government [need] to address the cuts in teachers' pay over the last few years, show a commitment and reward teachers for the work already done and the challenges ahead," he said. "This must mean a substantial increase in pay to retain and attract teachers."
Mr Searson also highlighted the threat to the national pay and conditions structure caused by four local authorities (Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Aberdeen) choosing to leave Cosla.
A Cosla spokesman said levels of pay for teachers taking supported study sessions were determined by individual councils.
The body's president, David O'Neill, sympathised with the SSTA's concerns about local authorities leaving, which he said left teachers "in collective bargaining limbo". But he added that he hoped the authorities concerned would continue to honour national collective bargaining arrangements.