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Workload is the issue, as well as pay

While we were not surprised, it was with considerable disappointment that we read May Ferries's comments about our pay claim in last week's edition of The TESS. For those who don't know May, it is important to point out (since she didn't) that she is a leading light in the Educational Institute of Scotland and in their involvement with the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers. So we must read her comments as those of her union.

To summarise, she implied that we are a selfish and divisive group who ought to be ashamed of ourselves for proposing that headteachers and deputes should get a salary increase of 10 per cent above the rest of the profession in an effort to solve the problem of headteacher recruitment.

Despite her misrepresentation, our claim is simple: over the period of the coming pay settlement, headteachers and deputes should receive 10 per cent more than the rest of the profession.

The rationale is equally simple. Following the teachers' national agreement, senior management teams have seen a significant increase in workload, and this should be reflected in their pay.

In addition, we argue that there are serious difficulties in attracting enough applicants for school leader roles. This has been a significant problem in relation to headteacher posts for some time and is increasingly becoming a problem in relation to deputes.

We recognise that there are a number of factors behind an individual's decision to seek a leadership role and that pay is only one of these. The fact is that both our organisations have been making, and continue to make, representations about a range of issues that would make school leadership roles more appealing. Indeed, our associations are actively pursuing the very issues May has highlighted as reasons why she has no aspiration to become a headteacher.

We have never suggested nor pretended that, if delivered, our pay claim would solve the problem of recruiting school leaders. We recognise that pay is only part of the puzzle. For recruitment problems to be fully and properly addressed, we believe that the job-sizing toolkit needs root-and-branch review.

Unfortunately, on past showing, the EIS-dominated SNCT teachers' panel has no appetite for representing the interests of school leaders, particularly with issues such as job-sizing - despite the support shown for a review of this issue from the other two sides of the negotiating table (local and central government).

We are under no illusions about the complexity or difficulties facing us in this task, especially as current negotiating structures are dominated by associations who are focused on class teacher concerns. However, school leaders not currently in either of our associations might reflect on whether their current professional association is best serving their needs on this important issue.

Bill McGregor is general secretary of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland.

Greg Dempster is general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland.

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