Teaching – an attractive profession?

Pay and conditions for teachers has always been high up on the profession’s agenda. In 2001, the McCrone Agreement (A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century) was reached which delivered a significant pay rise and enhanced conditions designed to secure teaching as an attractive and well paid profession.

In 2008, my dissertation focused on what teachers thought of the Agreement. I carried out a small scale research project.  Whilst this was not a published piece, it makes interesting reading nearly 10 years on.  My conclusions are shown below:

Career Structure
1. Restructuring of management positions has caused confusion and problems.
2. The new career structure does not benefit career progression.
3. The old structure benefited those who wanted to progress and retained people in
the profession.
4. CT status is not welcomed by all and some feel it has not delivered due to the low
number of participants.
5. Teachers do not like paying for the CT scheme.
6. CT’s should be used to provide support to probationer/student teachers.
7. Promoted staff did not rank CT as important.
Conditions of Service
8. 3 in 4 teachers are happy with their duties.
9. Nearly 50% said the new conditions of service make them feel like a professional.
10. 90% of teachers feel under pressure.
11. Teachers work far more than a 35-hour week.
12. Some teachers still have more than 22.5 hours of contact time.
13. Unpromoted teachers ranked the 22.5 contact time as important.

Pay
14. Pay was ranked as the most important outcome of the McCrone Agreement.
15. Promoted posts ranked pay as the most important issue.
16. 80% think that probationers pay is appropriate for the job description.

Professional Development
17. 4 in 5 teachers think the new TIS is better than the one it replaced.
18. Over 80% agree that 35 hours a year for CPD is sufficient.
19. Most teachers follow a CPD plan.

The media (Scotsman 2018) is filled with discussions about a potential pay rise above inflation (for 2018/19) with comments being made that another full scale review of teachers pay and conditions is required. Surely we must learn from the past and not make the same mistakes again by allowing our profession to be devalued, underpaid and our profession held in such low public regard.

The McCrone Agreement was supposed to have solved all of these issues, however it feels like we are having the same discussions about pay, career structure and conditions as we did back in the late 1990s.

On pay, we seem to have gone a significant way backwards. Although it is welcome that we are due to receive more than a 1% pay rise (1.3% until March 2018). The unions are calling for an above inflation rise for the 2018/19 negotiations and are willing to take industrial action this time around. We shall see if this comes to fruition or not in the months ahead.

On career structure, we have a much flatter structure that has brought positives to the primary sector but has had a negative effect on the secondary sector with some colleagues reporting a lack of promotion prospects. Yet, we are now potentially discussing bringing back a system of rewarding teachers to remain in the classroom. The chartered teacher status provided this and it was removed rather than reformed. Maybe time for a rethink on this?

I welcome the introduction of professional update as it provides accountability and ensures that all teachers participate in their 35 hours of professional Learning. The General Teaching Council for Scotland has also provided rigour through the introduction of the standards for full, career long professional learning, initial registration and leadership and management.

However, until there is recognition that teaching is a profession that can only be completed in more than the contractual 35 hours per week then I fear we will not make progress on ensuring the best possible standards for young people. The working time agreement does nothing to help teachers get the best for their pupils either.

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