Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes teachers will accept their new pay offer.
Teachers have starting voting on whether to support the latest deal, but Scotland’s largest teaching union the EIS has already recommended it is rejected.
Cosla is offering a 9% increase between April 2018 and April 2019, with a further 3% next year, backed by Scottish Government funding.
The First Minister said the deal will also give the lowest paid teachers a 16% increase in their salaries by April, and an almost 20% uplift by April next year.
“We know one of our challenges is attracting more people into the teaching profession and I hope that that will help us to do so,” Ms Sturgeon told MSPs.
Teachers at the top of the pay scale will also see their wage packets rise to more than £41,000 by April 2020, she added, with a restructuring of wages meaning teachers will reach the top of the scale faster.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said: “It is of course now for teachers to decide, but I hope teachers will look at the detail of this offer and I very much hope they will decide to back this deal, because I believe it’s in the interest of the teaching profession and it’s in the interests of pupils the length and breadth of the country.”
EIS officials voted narrowly to reject the deal at a council meeting last week, as unions have been campaigning for 10% one-year rise.
A three-week consultative ballot of EIS members opened at noon on Thursday.
The union recommends rejecting the pay offer and moving for a statutory ballot for strike action.
It has agreed to include arguments both for and against in the ballot communication to enable members to make an informed decision.
In a message to teachers, the EIS said: “Ultimately, the decision lies with you, the members.
“This has been your campaign; this is your union; and you decide what happens next.
“Whatever your view, please use your vote.”
Education Secretary John Swinney has said the offer is a “fair pay rise” and the best deal for public sector workers UK-wide.
He said: “The additional Scottish Government funding for restructuring pay grades would total almost £280 million over three years, in addition to the current local government settlement, and will not only see an increase in salaries for everyone within the profession, it will also ensure quicker pay progression.
“Under this offer a new teacher would reach the maximum of the pay scale in five years. A clear indication of our commitment to recruit and retain teachers.
“EIS council narrowly voted to recommend rejection of the enhanced offer but members will now have their say. I urge all teachers to be clear in their understanding of the deal on the table, to give it serious consideration and to recommend their representatives to accept on their behalf.”
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said previously it is “up to our members to decide on whether to accept or reject this revised offer”.