McCormac review recommends more teacher flexibility


The McCormac review examined teachers' pay and conditions

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Scotland's education system needs more flexibility so teachers can do their jobs better, a major review has said.

Stirling University principal Prof Gerry McCormac said the amount of time they spend in the classroom needs to be weighed up over a longer period.

And he concluded teachers needed greater support to run before and after school activities.

But the government-published review said there should be no change to teachers' working requirements.

That would mean the current 35-hour working week remaining, as well as the amount of class contact time, set at 855 hours.

But the McCormac review of teacher employment said the level of contact time should be considered over a greater period than is currently the case, such as across a month or a term.

It also said teachers should be staying on school premises during the day.

The report said: "Evidence indicates that the significant majority of teachers are hard-working and dedicated to their profession.

"However the strict division of the 35 hours into blocks of time is seen by some as not being open for discussion.

"We received evidence, mostly from teachers in schools, of frustration at the inflexibility of a small minority of their colleagues.

"This has created the impression that some teachers opt out of their professional obligations."

Pay 'acceptable'

The main recommendations of the McCormac review called for:

  • No increase in annual 855 hours of class contact time for teachers in Scotland, but use should be considered over longer periods.
  • No change in the 35-hour working week, but more flexibility needed to allow teachers to undertake collegiate work
  • Scrapping of the chartered teacher scheme, which offered major pay rises to staff who took advanced studies.
  • A revitalised system of professional and personal development for teachers
  • No change in contractual time put aside for teacher professional development, but the annual 35-hour allocation "should not be viewed as a time limit".
  • Teachers to "normally remain" on schools premises during school day

Elsewhere, the review said teacher pay was at an "acceptable level" and did not currently need looking at.

McCrone - 2001 McCormac - 2011
What it recommended What it recommended

The introduction of a 35-hour week for all teachers

The 35-hour week should not be changed

A maximum of 22.5 hours per week will be devoted to class contact time

Class contact time should remain the same - 855 hours per year. However, it should be managed over a longer period of time, such as a month or a term

A maximum of 35-hours of CPD per annum

The 35-hours contracted CPD should remain for the year, but that should not be viewed as a maximum

A list of tasks of duties which should not be routinely carried out by teachers, including photocopying, repair and maintenance, reception and telephone answering

Sensible flexibility should be the approach. It is not appropriate to specify what a teacher should not do. Recommended removal of Annex E of the Teachers' Agreement

A 23% pay increase over a period of three years for all teachers

Teachers' pay remains at an acceptable level and does not require assessment "in the short term"

A new Chartered Teacher Grade

The Chartered Teacher Scheme should be discontinued

All probationers should be guaranteed a one-year training contract

The guaranteed year of employment for all probationary teachers should continue

The government ordered the review 10 years after the the landmark McCrone agreement on teacher conditions.

It was credited with improving teachers terms, but criticised for not focusing on boosting school standards.

Issuing his findings, Prof McCormac, said: "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."

Education Secretary Mike Russell broadly welcomed the report, and said its recommendations would be discussed with teaching unions, local authorities and others.

He added: "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."

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, said the McCormac review had come at a time when "increasingly beleaguered" teachers were having to sacrifice some conditions while facing a pensions raid and a pay freeze.

He added: "The initial overall impression is that the report weakens key contractual protections introduced in the 2001 agreement and strengthens managerialist, as opposed to collegiate, approaches.

"Under the guise of 'flexibility', even greater burdens and controls are proposed for teachers who will have to rely on the benevolence of the headteacher to spare them from excessive workload."

"The proposals to reconfigure working time will not be well-received and, if implemented, would require a clock-watching approach that sits uncomfortably with enhanced professionalism."

Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh MSP said some of the recommendations would "drastically" change teacher duties.

"With the number of teachers plummeting under the SNP, teachers are already under significant pressure - never mind piling more onto their plates," he said.

"Teachers should be left to teach, not dish out school dinners or repair computers.

'Plethora of rules'

The report was given a warm welcome by Liz Smith, the Tory education spokeswoman, who warned the government not to "cave in" to union pressure.

She said: "I welcome the recommendations that there should be greater flexibility within individual schools when it comes to setting teachers' terms and conditions.

"It is clear that good teachers and well run schools don't need a plethora of rules and regulations - people will be very upset if unions use these findings to create trouble and disrupt the education of children all across Scotland."

Lib Dem education spokesman Liam McArthur added: "Allowing greater flexibility between teaching time and non-contact time, for example, is potentially a helpful suggestion, but Scottish Liberal Democrats want to go further.

"Greater discretion should be given to head teachers in relation to staffing and managing their schools, to allow genuine excellence in education to flourish."

Isabel Hutton, who speaks on education issues for council group Cosla, said: "Local authorities recognise the dedication and hard work of teachers, associated professionals and all those who interact with the wider set of services responsible for the education and welfare of our children, and I feel sure that councils will support all appropriate measures to advance professionalism and strengthen teaching in Scotland."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I would ask cynics to consider a few points, puting aside whatever your job and terms of work are. Would you accept ; a pay freeze, an increase to your pension contributions, a reduction in your final pension, working longer for this reduced pension, being devalued (financially) if you are temporary, having your holidays reduced?
    No-one in their right mind would accept this without a fight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    I arrive at 8am and leave at 5.45pm because the cleaners are locking the school. I don't have problem with that or the total number of hours. I do have an issue with the as you have highlighted being stereotyped by people who neither understand or bother finding out what the job involves. Unfortunately most parents are shocked when you phone them at 5.30, the media have made us believe the hype.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I'm a primary supply teacher and was furious at the reporter stating "it's 3.25 the pupils are leaving and so are the teachers!" I am regularly at my school til 4.30 or 5 pm, tidying up/putting up/taking down wall displays/finding school resources; then I do marking/planning at home, where I can research resources on the web in comfort with a coffee! Very few teachers I know leave with the pupils!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    this is the only job i know, that has so much time off, no other job has six weeks off in the summer all bank holidays christmas, new year , blimey emergency service woerkers work all years 24/7 as do most other jobs and they work hard too. Why dont schools cut back on some of the holidays that way the kids get more chance to learn instead of being on street corners causing a nuisance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Yes, teachers do enjoy longer holidays but are paid less than other professionals because of this (as stated in the McCormac review). People who complain about this are bitter because they would like those holidays too. Instead of campaigning for better holidays for themselves, they focus on removing teachers' holidays. I challenge any of these people to do my job for a day and then complain.


Comments 5 of 16


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