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Voluntary hours

FURTHER straws in the political wind suggest our party leaders want more from teachers than they currently appear to have given after receiving substantial pay rises. Indeed, headteachers' associations confirm that most teachers have taken the money in lieu of underpayment and overwork over the years. It is enough for many when the post-McCrone deal already adds 35 hours a year of further professional commitment.

It may not be enough for ministers and local authorities. This week, Jim Wallace, the Liberal Democrat leader, floated the idea of contracts for new recruits that would require a commitment to out-of-hours duties. Similarly, Jack McConnell, the First Minister, wants more in return from a better paid workforce.

Contracts in the independent sector have always stipulated a whole-school commitment in return for a small additional payment, often a few hundred pounds. It appears to work.

Ministers and many others ask why something similar can't be developed when details emerging from the national job-sizing exercise suggest many teachers are actually overpaid for the responsibilities they have.

Differential contracts may not work but teachers will be under pressure to offer more. Or else.

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