Teachers' pay deal 'needs rethink'

PETER Peacock, the education minister, has admitted that the McCrone deal on teachers' pay may have to be redrawn after applications for headteacher posts halved in the wake of the agreement.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Mr Peacock admitted the so-called "job-sizing" element of the pay deal, which has seen the salaries on offer for many senior teaching posts cut, was partly to blame for the drop in applicants. He said the McCrone deal was not "cast in stone" and pledged to review it in the future.

His comments were welcomed by headteachers' representatives, but they demanded that any investigation into the impact of the McCrone deal should start by the summer.

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Mr Peacock said: "I do think that we have to think about whether one of the impacts of McCrone has been to diminish the desire to take on that responsibility [to become a headteacher].

"In the past there were about ten applicants for every headteacher's post and now it's something like five. If that trend continues then it's got implications and it is an issue for us to look at as we move forward. It may be an unintended impact of McCrone."

The minister added: "I do detect from headteachers that it's a very demanding job and to become a headteacher you have to make a big commitment.

"Schools ... can be very heavily criticised and they are subject to intensive scrutiny. These are real pressures on people and if the rewards are not sufficiently great, then why would you want to move from the deputy's position to become the headteacher? I think we have to pay more attention to that."

Mr Peacock said the review was "some time on the horizon", but admitted it was unlikely to happen within a year.

Bill McGregor, the general secretary of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland (HAS), said the need for job-sizing to be reviewed was "urgent".

He said: "We would like the minister to work faster on this."

Greg Dempster, the general secretary of the Association of Headteachers Scotland, which represents the primary school sector, said: "There are examples where deputies are only being paid a couple of thousand pounds less than the headteacher in their school and more than the head of a neighbouring school, so the career pathways have been all but removed."