Have your say on the (McCormac) Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland (updated)

17 Oct

Update: 17 October 2012

Latest updates

Update: 9 February 2012

Future for teacher employment

Plans to support teachers to improve learning outcomes for children and young people have been announced. In response to the McCormac review of teaching employment, the Scottish Government intends to:

  • create a new masters level qualification to replace the Chartered Teacher scheme
  • introduce a refreshed system of professional review for teachers
  • give further, careful consideration to the role of external experts in schools.

Maureen Laing, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) with Voice: the union for education professionals said:

“It is reassuring that the Cabinet Secretary has stated that ‘Chartered Teachers and those in the process of becoming Chartered Teachers should be given credit for the work they have already undertaken’. There was a great concern that what had been achieved by Chartered Teachers would not be recognised.

“However, I am concerned that the Professional Review and Development that is to be introduced will be the responsibility of the National Partnership Group and GTCS without direct representation from the teaching unions.

“We await with interest what Education Scotland will report in relation to the current arrangements for external experts being used in schools.

“Voice hopes that the views of teachers will be an important part of this process.”

Do let us know your views…

Update: 13 September 2011

Commenting on the report, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) Maureen Laing said:

“The McCrone agreement was supposed to be ‘a teaching profession for 21st century’ not just for ten years.

“The title of the McCormac Review might be Advancing Professionalism in Teaching but, while it’s not as radical as expected, many teachers will see elements of it as a retreat back to the pre-McCrone days of the twentieth century.

“The report’s recommendations erode rather than advance the professionalism of teaching, throw up a number of inconsistencies, and potentially threaten the posts of many support staff.

“The teaching profession is being expected to take a leap in the dark with some of the proposals such as how non-contact time will be used and the practical implications for timetabling.

“As we said in our response to the Review, ‘there should be no erosion of the terms and conditions agreed under the McCrone Agreement, which set out parameters for the profession and recognised the necessity of non-contact time and collegiate time to provide a sound basis for effective learning and teaching to take place. There should be professional autonomy and McCrone has provided this to teachers’.

“I fear that, if adopted, some of the new proposals would erode both those terms and conditions and professional autonomy. Prescribing how teachers should carry out their non-contact duties certainly erodes their professional autonomy.

“We are very concerned about the wholesale removal of Annexes from the Teachers’ Agreement. The GTCS’s Standards (Annex B) have not yet been developed. I am concerned about too much power over the profession being concentrated in the hands of one body in this case, the GTCS.

“Annex E is the‘list of tasks [that] should not routinely be carried out by teachers . These tasks would generally be undertaken by support staff thereby allowing the particular skills and experience of the teacher to be deployed most effectively’. Where would its removal leave those support staff redundant? or the effective deployment of teachers’ skills and experiences? I fear the impact on support staff jobs. It seems more like a cost-saving exercise than an advancement of professionalism.

“On the positive side, we are delighted that the Report avoids some of the more extreme elements of COSLA’s controversial submission. We are therefore pleased with the recommendations that there should be no change to the length of the current contracted week of 35 hours or to the current 855 hours per year of class contact time.

“While we welcomed its introduction, the Chartered Teacher status has not lived up to expectations because of its focus on the academic, rather than the practical, classroom-based aspects of teaching. There should be other career paths for those teachers who do not want to move into senior management along the same lines as the medical profession.

“The measures for probationers are largely a firming up of what is already in place and, provided the safeguards remain in place, they should continue to prepare probationers for their future career.

“There are admirable proposals on Professional Review and Personal Development and Continuing Professional Development. We are particularly pleased with the recognition that ‘Other staff, within a school, who contribute to the education of pupils should be entitled to PRPD’. Classroom assistants the ‘valuable assets’ as they were once described deserve greater recognition.

“However, we are concerned about the availability of resources for implementing the structured programme.

“There is also a fundamental inconsistency at the heart of these particular proposals. One the one hand support staff are being offered PRPD but, on the other hand, many of their tasks may be taken away. Will they be in post to take up this professional development? Is this an attempt to look generous and supportive while saving money at the same time?”

Do let us know your views…

Update: 8 September 2011

Professor McCormac’s Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland will be published during September and Voice has been invited to give a written submission and oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee later this month, following the Review’s publication.

If you have any comments or feedback (before or after publication of the Review report) that would inform our evidence, please post it below or email scotland@voicetheunion.org.uk.

Voice’s Official Response (April 2011)


The Report will be published at www.reviewofteacheremployment.org

16 February 2011:

Plans for a review of the 2001 agreement on teachers’ pay and conditions, A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, have been announced.

The review of the 2001 agreement is to be chaired by Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Stirling University. The McCormac Review will examine a range of issues related to teacher employment. The Review will report with recommendations by summer 2011 with a view to the agreed recommendations being implemented from August 2012.

The Review’s Call for Evidence will aim to gather views on key aspects of the current arrangements established by A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, and will ask specific questions relating to the effect of the Agreement.

Further details are on the Voice Website.

The Review will report with recommendations by summer 2011 with a view to the agreed recommendations being implemented from August 2012.

Voice notes with interest the reasons given by Education Secretary Mike Russell for establishing the review. The focus is very much on the cost and size of the teacher workforce in the current financial climate rather than concentrating on delivering the best educational outcomes for children and young people.

Voice would be very concerned if this review resulted in unacceptable changes to teachers’ terms and conditions, given that the commitment to implement Curriculum for Excellence has been assured by the Scottish Government.

If there is a reduction in non-class contact time, then it will be very difficult to maintain the same level of preparation, which will put additional pressure on staff.

The future of education is everyone’s future so it is important that everything possible is done to ensure that the valuable services provided by all those involved in education are not irreparably damaged for generations to come.

Do let us have views, which will inform Voice’s response to the review, either by adding your comments below or by emailing scotland@voicetheunion.org.uk

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9 Responses to “Have your say on the (McCormac) Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland (updated)”

  1. Richard Fraser 19. Apr, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Voice’s Official Response: http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/index.cfm?cid=768

  2. Richard Fraser 14. Sep, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    McCormac: What happens next?

    Following the McCormac Report, the next stage will involve discussions on its recommendations between the Scottish Government and various stakeholders, including Voice.

    Ministers will then consider the recommendations in detail in conjunction with the information gathered from these discussions. It will therefore be further down the line that decisions will be taken by the Scottish Government on which recommendations are in fact to be implemented and also on how these are to be implemented in practical terms.

    Keep up to date with the latest information at: http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/mccormacreview

  3. Maureen Laing 15. Sep, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    To clarify our position on Chartered Teachers: We said in our press release: "While we welcomed its introduction, the Chartered Teacher status has not lived up to expectations because of its focus on the academic, rather than the practical, classroom-based aspects of teaching. There should be other career paths for those teachers who do not want to move into senior management along the same lines as the medical profession."

    In other words, we didn't support its end Voice argued for its introduction but acknowledged the not-unexpected call by McCormac for its end. We are saying that there should be some form of career path for those teachers who want to remain and develop and be rewarded as excellent teachers but who do not want to move into senior management and away from actual teaching.

    While CT courses include both academic and practical aspects of teaching, our understanding from members who have embarked on them is that the focus tends to be more on the academic side. It is difficult to evaluate its direct impact on the classroom situation.

    CTS has been of value but it has not been the success that was hoped for and we would like to see it reviewed not discontinued.

    In Voice's official response to the McCormac review,(http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/index.cfm?cid=768), we strongly agreed that Chartered Teacher Scheme had had a positive impact on "Retaining skilled professionals as classroom teachers" and agreed that it had had a positive impact on "Learning and teaching quality across the school".

    We said that:

    "As this was a new position, it is important to review its impact and discover the benefits to teachers and to teaching and learning in schools.

    "There are variations in how Chartered Teachers are used in schools e.g. as enhanced professionals providing CPD/advice/support to colleagues and this needs to be reviewed to assess whether any changes are required. The skills of Chartered Teachers are not universally valued.

    "In the initial stages of formulating the position of Chartered Teacher, there was to be no cost to the teacher but this approach was quickly changed and it is now an expensive route for committed teachers who wish to remain in the classroom."

    Maureen Laing, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland), Voice

    • Maureen Laing 16. Sep, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      “External experts”

      A further contradiction is that while the report purports to 'advance professionalism', recommendation 31 suggests that external experts could be brought in to work directly with classes on their own. This could lead to unqualified staff being allowed to look after children without supervision. How can this be reconciled with improving teaching and learning? These external experts may be experts in their own field but they are not teachers.

      Maureen Laing, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland), Voice

      My letter in The Scotsman on McCormac: [www.scotsman.com/opinion/Letter-Teaching-terms.6837120.jp]

    • Margaret Adamson 17. Sep, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      After five years of hard work I have just been awarded the title of Chartered Teacher by the GTCs.

      I am puzzled by the opinion expressed by the McCormac Report that the position of Chartered Teacher purely involves academic work as, certainly in my case, the accreditation of prior experience involved producing a portfolio of evidence featuring three areas of experience directly from current teaching, with a reflective report which reflected on these three areas.

      I am also puzzled by the comments about Chartered Teachers being self selected, as I had to ask my head teacher for a certificate stating that in each of the three experiences of teaching, that she was satisfied that the work was my own and was of a high quality commenserate with Chartered Teacher status. My head teacher had to answer questions about whether or not my teaching linked favourably with the Standard for Chartered Teacher as well.

      There was also an emphasis on the fact that Chartered Teachers received more pay whilst not having to do any extra duties. Certainly, this needs to be reviewed and can form part of a revised job description for Chartered Teachers. It may also be that CTs may have to become Principal Teachers but this means that they are part of the SMT and are not therefore assuming the role of experienced teachers who benefit the school by virtue of their up-to-date knowledge and their ability to carry out meaningful educational research and mentoring newer teachers.

      It is true that the take up of the Chartered Teacher status has been disappointing but I think it is worth keeping but changed in the review to make the job description more clear of what duties they are expected to perform.

      One point I want to emphasise: it is not purely an academic exercise or a totally pointless exercise. These views are hurtful and could seriously damage the morale of those brave souls who have taken this path and whose enthusiasm and hard work, dedication to their profession and desire to better themselves should be praised and encouraged.

  4. Jennifer Hannah 20. Sep, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    The Education and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament took evidence from stakeholders (including Alan Robertson, Vice Chairman of Voice's Scottish Executive Committee (SEC)) today (20 September 2011).

    The purpose of the meeting was to better inform the Committee on the issues thrown up by the report in advance of their questioning of Professor McCormac on 27 September.

    The key themes focused upon by the Committee were:

    • flexibility, eg class contact hours spread over a longer period and abolishment of set tasks, and how this could improve pupil outcomes;
    • whether there were appropriate incentives for teachers in terms of career progression and what current limitations there are; and
    • cohesion of various proposed reforms across a number of reports recently produced, eg Donaldson.

    Within these categories, there was discussion of a number of issues and recommendations.

    The summary message put forward at the close of the meeting by COSLA and other non-union stakeholders was essentially that the “test” of any reforms should be their impact on pupil outcomes.

    The summary message put forward by the unions was essentially that teacher morale was key to achieving pupil outcomes, with reference made in particular to the impact teachers are already feeling to date eg pension reform.

    Further updates: http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/mccormacreview

    Jennifer Hannah, Professional Officer (Scotland), Voice

    • Richard Fraser 20. Sep, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      BBC Scotland’s Seonag MacKinnon on Twitter:
      #Holyroodeducommittee “Alan Robertson of Voice union says McCormac proposals may well cost jobs – staff like classroom assistants.”

      "Fears over rising teacher workloads" : Press Association, 20 September

      Full reports on the Committee’s meeting are under Further updates at: http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/mccormacreview

  5. Jennifer Hannah 29. Sep, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    According to a recent Scotsman article, “Scottish teachers are paid better than most other professions and work fewer hours than their English counterparts.”
    The research was undertaken as part of the McCormac review by Professor David Bell, of Stirling University. It found that pay levels among teachers continue to be better than among those in sectors such as healthcare, business, science and the media.

    “The report also found teachers in Scotland work fewer hours than those south of the Border and are more likely to seek to reduce their hours than other professions.”

    There are many things that statistics like these don't show.

    They don't cast any light on different countries' curricula, examination systems and accountability regimes or the variations in the demands and intensity of work in the different societies or sectors.

    They don't show all the 'non-contracted' things that teachers do even though they aren't actually in the contract the out-of-school activities, the being there for the exam results, the preparation time at home at evenings and weekends

    The record pass rates in Scottish exams demonstrate the success of Scotland's teachers. They are worth every penny they are paid, and more.

    The package of salary, pensions and holidays that teachers receive is clearly beneficial to the outcomes that the education system is producing. The current balance of those components seems to be right.

    There is no appreciation in the comments of those who like to have a go at teachers' pay and holidays of the intensity of teachers' work in the classroom, in all the marking, assessment and recording, and in all the unseen preparation for that teaching, marking and assessment. Teachers need periods of reflection, recovery and preparation and these are provided by the holidays.

    We mustn't forget that children are required to work intensively during term and they also need holidays to recover and prepare for term time.

    Politicians, pundits and the media should stop having a go at teachers. They need to remember the massive and essential contribution to society made by teachers, classroom assistants and others working in our schools, nurseries and colleges.

    Jennifer Hannah, Professional Officer (Scotland)

  6. Maureen Laing 04. Oct, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Today I atttended a meeting, along with leaders of the other teaching unions, Tony Finn of GTCS, COSLA and representatives from the Scottish Government, to share thoughts about the McCormac Report.

    There was constructive discussion and much of the necessary work will be taken forward through the SNCT.

    There will be a series of meetings and opportunities for further discussion about the various recommendations in the months ahead.

    Maureen Laing, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland)

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