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Improved pay bid to combat teacher shortage

One in three Scottish councils has reported problems finding shortterm cover. Picture: Getty Images

One in three Scottish councils has reported problems finding shortterm cover. Picture: Getty Images

  • by CHRIS MARSHALL
 

SUPPLY teachers are to be offered an improved pay deal to try to address the problem of finding short-term cover in Scotland’s schools.

Under a deal reached between teachers’ union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the Scottish Government and local government group Cosla, supply teachers will be offered better terms, while all teachers will be given a 1 per cent pay rise, backdated to 1 April.

However, the deal depends on EIS members agreeing to a series of recommendations in the controversial McCormac report, including the removal of an agreement safeguarding the duties that should and should not be carried out by teachers.

Under that agreement, teachers are protected from carrying out non-teaching tasks normally carried out by clerical and administrative staff.

The EIS said it was making no recommendation to members on how they should vote. But if teachers reject the McCormac proposals, the pay deal will be off the table.

Under a deal agreed in 2011, the daily rate paid to supply teachers was halved, leaving many schools unable to find cover. Recent reports suggest one in three councils is still struggling, with schools having to extend assemblies and leave pupils in canteens because teachers are not available.

The new agreement will see “short-term supply” redefined, meaning teachers will be paid the full rate after three days, rather than the previous five. Teachers receiving the lower rate will also be paid 10 per cent extra for preparation and correction.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS entered into pay discussions with the priority of making progress on the pay and conditions of short-term supply teachers.

“After much hard negotiation, a final offer has been received that represents a significant improvement on the short-term supply issue, without impacting on the 1 per cent pay offer to all employees that was previously announced by Cosla.

Mr Flanagan added: “A pay offer of 1 per cent this year and 1 per cent for next year may well be all that can be achieved through negotiation in the current climate, but the EIS is clear that this will not reverse the real-term decline in teachers’ pay, and at some point action will need to be taken to ensure that teaching remains an attractive profession for young graduates.”

Published in 2011, the McCormac report was written by Professor Gerry McCormac, principal of Stirling University.

While many of its recommendations were uncontroversial, a number remain contentious, including the removal of “Annex B” and “Annex E” from the Teachers’ Agreement.

There is concern within the profession that the removal of Annex B, an agreed list of teachers’ duties. and Annex E, a list of tasks that “should not be routinely carried out by teachers”, may result in teachers being asked to take on extra work.

Separate proposals around more flexible working patterns mean some teachers may be required to spend more time in front of a class one week, but would be able to claim that time back the following week.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government, as a member of the SNCT [Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers], helped to secure this offer, which provides a 1 per cent pay offer, implements proposals from the McCormac Review and addresses the needs of teachers undertaking short-term supply work.”

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