Teachers and heads should spend the same amount of time on school premises as pupils and be willing to work more flexible hours, the landmark McCormac Review into the 2001 Teacher’s Agreement has recommended.
The review also calls for the prescribed 35-hour workweek set down by the McCrone Inquiry, with lists of tasks that should and should not be done by teachers, to be scrapped, along with the Chartered Teacher scheme of training for experienced teachers.
While no specific recommendations have been made regarding teachers’ pay, there is an expectation that it will remain stable at current levels.
The recommendations have been welcomed by the Scottish Government, but the Scottish Labour Party has claimed some proposals would risk “dumbing down the profession”.
Responding to the publication of the review, Education Secretary Mike Russell said: “These recommendations need to be given full and careful consideration as I believe they can make an important contribution to the work to develop our teaching workforce.
“Some of this work will be through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and some will be done separately and will build on partnerships already in play. I will set out arrangements for this in the next month.
“Of course, this can not move forward without discussion and consultation with teaching unions, COSLA and other key players. That is why I have invited their leaders to meet me at an early date to ensure we keep the momentum going and discuss how we can work together to make sure we put in place the best outcomes for the teaching workforce.”
Responding for Labour, educations spokesman Ken Macintosh said in a statement: “Teachers will be anxious at many of the recommendations in the review but also relieved that the report affirms the general principles behind the original McCrone agreement including those covering pay and conditions.
“If the SNP government choose to abolish annexes B and E of the teachers’ agreement it will drastically change the range of duties expected of teachers and risks dumbing down the profession. With the number of teachers plummeting under the SNP, teachers are already under significant pressure – never mind piling more onto their plates. Teachers should be left to teach, not dish out school dinners or repair computers.
“With their pensions already under threat from the Tory-led government, all eyes are now on the SNP government to see how it chooses to implement these proposals. For example, where does this leave its policy on class sizes? Will the SNP protect pay amongst chartered teachers following the abolition of such posts? Will the SNP go down the route of their Council colleagues in trying to replace classroom teachers with unqualified staff?
“The SNP government must now engage constructively with teachers’ unions, local authorities and professional bodies on the detail of these recommendations. If the SNP gets this wrong it risks undoing all the good work and the stability in the classroom we’ve seen over the last twelve years since McCrone.”
The review found that Scottish teachers’ working hours regularly exceed the 35-hour week, and that in comparison with other countries Scottish teachers spent far more time in the classroom, at 855 hours per year.
The review has already received the endorsement of the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES), which welcomed the recommendations as “positive developments”.
The review was chaired by Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, who said in a statement that the recommendations “reinforce existing good practice”.
“Education is of paramount importance to the future of society. It has the potential to set each of us on a personal journey of discovery, allowing us to better engage with the world, and to secure a sustainable future for ourselves and our families,” said McCormac.
“The teaching profession, alongside parents and guardians, has a vital role to play in ensuring that our children and young people reach their full potential.
“The evidence we obtained during the review demonstrated clearly the commitment, passion and expertise of teachers and indeed all those involved in education in Scotland.
“We believe that the potential for enhanced professionalism created by our recommendations, alongside those of Professor Graham Donaldson’s report will further improve learning outcomes for children and young people in Scotland.
“Our recommendations reinforce existing good practice. Our advice on contact time will increase flexibility in the teaching profession, and revitalising professional development will enhance teacher education, further improving the quality of teachers in Scotland.
“The 34 recommendations of the review group now sit with the Scottish Government. I trust they will be given full consideration.”