A report comparing the ­education systems of different countries in the developed world, published yesterday, reveals that classroom teachers in Scotland are now the eighth best paid in the developed world, compared to fifth-best two years ago.

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that, since the 2007 report, school staff in Scotland have been overtaken on pay by ­teachers from Ireland, the Netherlands and Japan.

Other countries ahead of Scotland -- where non-promoted teachers can earn up to £33,399 -- are Luxembourg, Switzerland, South Korea and Germany.

The figures were published on the day that an academic from Glasgow University suggested teachers’ salaries should be performance-related.

John McLaren, honorary research fellow at the university’s department of urban studies, said the quality of education in Scotland would improve if salary increases were linked to benchmarks such as improved exam performance, rather than based on length of service.

The OECD revelations come at a difficult time for the profession in Scotland, with thousands of teachers who have qualified in the past few years unable to find full-time permanent posts.

Teacher salaries in Scotland were boosted by the 2001 McCrone agreement on pay and conditions, which recognised the career was seen as less attractive because salaries had fallen behind other professions.

The improved salary scales were then used to promote teaching to a new generation of school-leavers and university graduates.

However, concern is mounting that the comparative decline in salary levels -- and the difficulty in getting jobs -- will combine to make teaching a less popular career choice in future.

Ann Ballinger, general-secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, added: “It is no surprise that teachers’ pay has slipped as we have already agreed to increases that were below the rise in the cost of living.

“We appreciate that these are difficult times financially, but, when salaries slip year by year from the level agreed under McCrone, then it becomes increasingly difficult to attract talented young people to the profession, particularly when there appear to be no jobs.”

Speaking at an education conference in Edinburgh, organised by the Scottish Conservative Party, Mr McLaren argued that standards in schools could be improved by introducing performance-related pay.

“If teachers are seen to be good teachers because of the results they get year on year, whether that is measured in exam results or by other means, then introducing a pay increase on merit would reward the quality of that teacher,” he said.

“It is not simple to implement, but it is workable and it would allow good teachers to be rewarded, rather than all teachers being given a salary increase regardless of the quality of what they were offering.

“The McCrone deal was a good pay deal for teachers but it did not challenge the profession and I think that is what we need to do without disrupting the system.”

However, Helen Connor, president of the EIS dismissed the concept as “unworkable”.

“We are not naive enough to think that every teacher in Scotland is a brilliant teacher, but the way of resolving that is not to introduce performance-related pay, but to support those teachers who need to improve.”

Salaries of Scottish teachers are slipping behind their European counterparts