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McCormac Review: Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland

The remit given to Professor McCormac and his team was “To review the current arrangements for teacher employment in Scotland and make recommendations designed to secure improved educational outcomes for our children and young people.”

The review team has started work by having meetings with all the usual suspects and by conducting an on-line evidence gathering exercise which was open to any individual or group to express their views. The ‘call for evidence’ is now closed and the team is working its way through the 3400+ responses.

The AHDS response

In our meeting with the review team and in our response to the call for evidence we covered a lot of ground. Here are a few of the key points we made:

Protected Management time

“The implementation of TP21C has afforded classroom teachers a number of enhancements to their conditions but also had a serious negative effect on the working conditions of managers and their capacity to lead. One significant example of this is the inappropriate use of management teams to cover reduced class contact time and teacher absence.”

Nationally agreed staffing structures

“Local Authorities interpret national policy intentions in thirty-two different ways (with an eye to thirty-two different resource settlements and political priorities) with the result that, for promoted post holders, depending on where you are in Scotland workload and conditions can be quite different”

Leadership development/career pathways

“AHDS believes that the current system has created a number of barriers to the development of effective school leaders. The first is the lack of financial incentive to move up the leadership/management ladder. The second is an unwillingness to accept (and act to address the fact) that the role of Headteacher has become undesirable as a result of a squeeze on time to lead with head teachers spending increasing amounts of time managing the TP21C agreement and in class covering for staff absences. There needs to be a real commitment to leadership development – both ‘leadership at all levels’ as highlighted in the Donaldson Report but also to address the very real problem of a lack of applicants for headship combined with a considerable demographic challenge. We very much need a leadership college.”

Rigidity of approach to Reduced Class Contact Time

“At the core to any agreement on conditions of service must be the quality of education for children. We believe that the current system is too rigid and sets up barriers to professionalism alongside encouragement to ‘clock-watch’. Many members believe that reduced class contact time has been valuable for the profession and pupils but that three key changes need to be made:

–       The determination that reduced class contact time can be undertaken at a time and a place of the teacher’s own choosing should be removed.

–       The requirement to give a set number of hours reduced class contact time each week should be adjusted – perhaps allowing entitlement to be accumulated (with agreement of both parties) or for the entitlement to be expressed as a percentage of class contact time for the year and for its use to be agreed and planned for the year.

–       Reduced class contact time should be quality assured in some way to allow the profession to demonstrate impact. Managers should have the authority to state what should be done in this time e.g. planning with a stage partner to take forward CfE in coordinated manner.”

Job sizing

“We are concerned that in the current climate (a pay freeze, high inflation, increased pension payments and less benefit from future pension payments for promoted staff – due to proposed average salary pension calculations), pay will be eroded and it will become increasingly difficult to attract quality candidates for promoted posts.

The job sizing toolkit is overcomplicated…a much simpler system should be introduced with the aim of making it clear to those affected by it and ensuring it acts as an incentive to seeking promotion. No HT should earn less than any DHT. We think that the following key factors are the only ones which ought to be considered:

  • Role (HT, DHT, PT) – this would determine which scale your salary was taken from (different scales for each role with clear blue water between each role).
  • Roll (as a headcount – including nurseries or SEN bases)
  • Staff (a headcount of those the post holder reviews and those any subordinates review)

Roll and staff should be given unequal weightings with roll accounting for about 80% of the outcome.

Further, special arrangements might need to be considered for hard to fill posts and joint headships (where a HT looks after more than one school) which are not properly catered for in the current system.”

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