HC Deb 11 December 1984 vol 69 cc399-400W
Mr. Michael Forsyth

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the request by Scottish teachers for an independent review of their salaries.

Mr. Younger

I have today written to the secretary of the teachers' side of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee for Teaching Staff in School Education in the following terms:

  • Robert Beattie Esq
  • Joint Secretary
  • Teachers' Side
  • Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee for Teaching Staff in School Education
  • 46 Moray Place

EH3 6BH 11 December 1984

Dear Mr Beattie


You wrote to me on 14 August on behalf of the Teachers' Panel of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee for Teaching Staff in School Education (SJNC(SE)) to request that I establish an independent body to review the salaries of Scottish school teacher. Your letters referred only briefly to increased workload arising from recent educational developments and to annual erosion of the relative salary position of Scottish teachers; but at my invitation representatives of the Teachers' Side of the SJNC(SE) met me on 23 October to amplify their case, and I have seen also various documents published by individual teachers' associations. I have had the opportunity too of discussion with representatives of the Management Side of the SJNC(SE), and I have very recently seen an advance copy of a report prepared by a working party of the SJNC(SE) on the matter of teachers' workload. I have received also a number of representations in the matter from other organisations and individuals.

I have taken careful note of all the points made. It appears to me that the case being advanced by the Teachers' Side depends essentially upon the claims (i) that the salaries of teachers have been eroded in recent years and (ii) that teachers have over the same period experienced considerable increases in workload. On pay, it is of course no part of the Government's policy that salary increases should be indexed either to the rate of inflation or to some measurement of pay increases in the economy generally. Such an approach would be inconsistent both with the determination of the Government to defeat inflation and with our general policy of seeking to limit local authority expenditure. However, pay awards to teachers over the last 10 years or so have in fact been very closely comparable with those made to other groups of local authority employees in Scotland.

It has been put to me that teachers nevertheless constitute a special case, in that they have experienced substantial additions to their workload in recent years. It must, however, be borne in mind that teachers are by no means alone in having had to come to terms with new technologies and new methods of working. I recognise that new curricular developments have involved individual teachers in increased work; but I do not regard this as a permanent phenomenom and it certainly does not affect all teachers at one time. It should be remembered also that I have already made provision in rate support grant settlements for the employment of additional teachers in secondary schools and that I have agreed to a shortening of the school year in order to facilitate additional days of in-service training for teachers.

In the circumstances, therefore, I am not persuaded that I should be justified in establishing an independent review of the sort requested. There is, however, another possible way to handle this. Under statute it is of course the responsibility of SJNC(SE) to determine the salaries and conditions of service of school teachers in Scotland. I should be prepared to consider or, their merits and in the framework of the Government's existing public expenditure plans for Scotland as a whole any proposals relating to pay and conditions of service together which might result from detailed examination undertaken by the SJNC(SE). I should make it plain however that, to be convincing, a review of conditions of service would have to deal specifically with areas where existing arrangements appear not to be in keeping with present-day requirements — including the definition and prescription of teachers' responsibilities in the planning; of personal teaching methods and programmes, together with the teaching, discipline and assessment of pupils and participation in schemes of personal professional development; participation in pastoral, tutorial and guidance arrangements; lunchtime and playground supervision of pupils and consultations with parents, including attendance at parents' meetings; and control by employers of time within conditioned hours when teachers are not in class contact.

I fully appreciate the strong feelings of many teachers at the present time and I want to find a constructive way of responding to them. I hope that my reply will now enable us to move ahead with the exciting and progressive new developments in teaching on which we and the profession have embarked.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Management Side Joint Secretary of the SJNC(SE). I am also making its terms public by means of a Parliamentary statement and a press announcement.

Yours sincerely

George Younger

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