The Scottish press slammed teachers as 'greedy' last weekend for not jumping for joy at a proposed pay deal. Papers claimed negotiations between the Scottish Executive, teachers' union and local government representatives had come up with a once in a lifetime offer, worth a 21.5 percent pay increase over the next three years.
These are the same papers which have laid into teachers on three occasions over the last three years for questioning other 'once in a lifetime' offers. Each time Scottish government ministers and local authority employers were forced to admit, months after the furore, that the pay offers were not all they were cracked up to be.
And nor is this one, which comes out of discussions based on the McCrone report into teachers' pay and conditions. Scottish education minister Jack McConnell announced the average 21.5 percent over three years pay rise figure on Friday of last week. But he would not release details of the dramatically worsened conditions teachers will have to accept in return.
He would not even say which teachers would get what pay rises. After taking account of inflation, which may well rise, the pay offer is worth at most 4 percent a year.
That will still mean teachers' pay will fall behind that of other 'graduate professions'. In return, teachers will have to give up conditions of service. Leaks from the negotiations suggested they will have to do another 7.5 hours work a week under the direction of school management, an increase of over 25 percent.
They will also have to work the equivalent of five extra days a year. It is little wonder that leaders of the EIS Scottish teachers' union, who have been desperate to compromise with New Labour, could not immediately endorse the package.
There was also wrangling between the Scottish Executive and local government employers over who would foot the bill for any pay increases.
But they are united in wanting to make teachers work longer and harder as part of moves to push Scottish schools towards the market-driven model which dominates education in England and Wales. The Scottish Executive claims to be standing up for children. Yet it drove through the disastrous Higher Still exam which contributed to tens of thousands of pupils being unsure of their exam results last year. Local authorities such as Glasgow are pushing PFI privatisation schemes onto schools.
The Scottish Executive knows it has to improve pay to attract new teachers. But it is tying limited pay rises to increasing pressure on teachers and pupils.
NUT teachers' union leader Doug McAvoy has called a London area campaign rally about the London allowance paid to teachers in the capital. The rally is set for Tuesday 30 January. The move by McAvoy is a response to both rank and file teachers' anger over the regional costs of living, especially with housing, and the crisis all schools are facing with recruiting.
It is also timed to coincide with the announcement from the School Teachers Pay Review Body of its recommendations for increases in pay this April. Every school should now be ensuring that it gets to the rally in Friends Meeting House, opposite Euston station, London, starting at 6.30pm on Tuesday 30 January
Teachers, parents and pupils at Myrtle Springs School in Sheffield discovered this week that their school was due to be privatised. The council wants to use the school to set up one of the first 'City Academies' in the country. The plan is an outright attack on comprehensive education, and is taking place in the city where education secretary David Blunkett is an MP. The new school would receive sponsorship from a 'major business partner'. This 'partner' would play a critical day to day role in establishing and maintaining the school.
The school will also be able to select up to 10 percent of its pupils. On 1 February there is a Forum to Defend Comprehensive Education meeting in Sheffield with speakers including former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley and journalist Nick Davies, who wrote excellent articles in the Guardian about education.