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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Reaction to McCrone report
Prof. McCrone and Sam Galbraith
Prof. McCrone and Sam Galbraith
An independent inquiry into the working conditions of teachers in Scotland has recommended large salary increases and sweeping changes to the way they work.

This is the reaction to his conclusions, which call for a new career structure, and new dismissal procedures for under-performing staff:

Scottish Education Minister, Sam Galbraith:

Open quote

I established the committee of inquiry last year because an impasse had yet again been reached in the discussions on pay and conditions for teachers within the SJNC (Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee).

The committee was established as an independent inquiry, to look at all the issues and to report their recommendations.

I would like to thank Gavin McCrone and all members of his committee for their efforts. I know how widely they have consulted and how complex the issues are.

We will need to consider the recommendations carefully in the light of what is needed and what can be afforded

Sam Galbraith
I am sure that the publication of this report represents an important opportunity for the teaching profession and employers to work with the Scottish Executive to secure a modern framework for professional conditions of service for teachers.

Gavin McCrone and his committee have had a relatively short period of time to produce what I know will be a comprehensive and considered report.

I look forward to reading it thoroughly and then - as I outlined last week - consulting with interested parties on the recommendations.

We will need to consider the recommendations carefully in the light of what is needed and what can be afforded.

The ultimate aim is to deliver higher standards and better education for our children.

Close quote

EIS general secretary, Ronnie Smith:

Open quote

The government must confirm that it will fully fund the cost of changes to teachers' pay and working arrangements recommended by the McCrone Inquiry.

Without clarification that the recommendations are to be fully funded, any negotiation on the details proposals on pay and conditions, as promised recently by Education Minister Sam Galbraith, becomes a fruitless exercise.

Even a cursory glance at the budgets of the 32 local councils in Scotland which employ teachers shows clearly that they are in no position to meet the costs of the McCrone Inquiry recommendations.
Ronnie Smith
Ronnie Smith
The ball lies firmly at the feet of the Scottish Executive. They must confirm urgently how they intend to proceed.

In addition to seeking assurances on funding, the EIS will need to be assured that the process of negotiation announced by Mr Galbraith will be genuine and meaningful and that the Scottish Executive will be open to proposals for change and improvement, as well as considerable fleshing out of those areas of the inquiry's recommendations where the proposals are sketchy or incomplete.

Teachers will take exception to the lack of recommendations on class sizes; the recommended removal of certain protections for temporary teachers; the inquiry's compliance with the Scottish Executive's decision to abolish the SJNC; the absence of any reference in the report to educational psychologists and advisors and the recommended removal of the national absence cover agreement.

Anyone reading the report will be able to seize on parts which they find acceptable and parts which seem unacceptable.

Nothing is set in concrete; it is the totality of the final set of proposals which emerge in six months time on which teachers will have to judge.

Close quote

Chairman of the Scottish executive committee of the Professional Association of Teachers, Ian Elfick:

Open quote

It is evident that the McCrone Committee has listened to the association and the wider teaching profession.

However, we share the committee's regret that there is no clear commitment to fund all, or indeed any, of these proposals. It is now up to the Scottish Executive to put in place a mechanism to consult, negotiate and resource the way forward.

The association will continue to press for increased professional autonomy for teachers and looks forward to debating the issues around working hours and career structure outlined in McCrone's report.

However, we do not underestimate the difficulties that these recommendations will cause for teachers.

We welcome the fact that other professional issues raised in the association's submission to McCrone - including the implementation of social inclusion, discipline problems, additional administrative support for schools and pension matters - have been recognised by the committee.

The association looks forward to their further debate.

Close quote

The Scottish Conservatives' education spokesman, Brian Monteith MSP:

Open quote

We want an end to the executive's targets on the number of pupil exclusions from school as they do not take account of individual circumstances and can mean violent and disruptive pupils continuing to cause havoc with no ultimate sanction.

Teachers must be safe from violence and disruptive pupils should not be allowed to remain if they are affecting teacher morale.

This is a crucial issue that has reduced the willingness of many teachers to carry on in the profession and has already caused many to seek alternative careers.
Brian Monteith
Brian Monteith
The committee has recognised that the executive cannot get away with forcing the inclusion of disruptive pupils in a mainstream classroom without providing a great deal of additional support.

The real problem the executive now has is the funding of McCrone's recommendations.

The Scottish Executive has not earmarked any funds to pay for the changes which will cost at least 200m just for the impact of salaries.

The wider implications are likely to increase the bill again.

What is clear is that the costs of these proposals must not be fobbed off on the already hard pressed council tax payer. The executive must now reconsider our suggestion that the additional 86m for education in the Budget be set aside for McCrone.

Any further costs have to be met from contingency funds and efficiency savings. McCrone has clearly put the ball back at the feet of the Scottish Executive and ministers now need to address the cost implications as a matter of urgency.

Close quote

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31 May 00 | Scotland
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