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Created: 14 December 2015 | Last Updated: 14 December 2015 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

EIS Hits Back at Councils Over Teacher Number Failures

Monday, 14 December 2015

The EIS has today hit back at local authority group COSLA and a number of local authorities for their ambivalence towards commitments on maintaining teacher numbers.

While, nationally, teacher numbers were maintained as a result of 22 local authorities meeting or exceeding their commitments, ten local authorities failed to meet their individual agreements on teacher numbers.

This is particularly disappointing as a total of £51M in additional Scottish Government funding was allocated to local authorities for the specific purpose of maintaining the number of teachers they employ.

The councils which failed to meet their commitments may now be subject to financial penalty from the Scottish Government under the terms of their agreements.

Commenting on the issue, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "It is profoundly disappointing that ten local authorities, having signed agreements and accepted additional funding, have failed on their teacher number commitments. It should not be forgotten that a total of £51M in additional funding, from the Scottish Government, was allocated to local authorities for the specific purpose of maintaining teacher numbers.

"There is simply no logic in the argument, from COSLA and some of the failing authorities, that they should be allowed to keep this funding and spend it as they see fit.

Extra Funding

"This extra funding was allocated for one purpose – to maintain teacher numbers. Specifically £10 million was available to councils as additional funding where they had delivered on their commitments.

"The EIS believes that this extra £10 million should be distributed only to those authorities which met or exceeded their commitments to provide enhanced support for education in those areas."

Mr Flanagan continued, "The original agreement to maintain teacher numbers, struck in 2011, was hard won and came at significant cost to teachers. That agreement included cuts of some £60M to teachers’ terms and conditions that have still not been reversed.

Protection of teacher numbers

"The key gain in that agreement was the protection on teacher numbers. Subsequent agreements have continued the protections on the number of teachers employed, as both the EIS and the Scottish Government recognise the importance of maintaining teacher numbers in order to ensure consistent, high-quality education provision across Scotland. The claim by COSLA that the number of teachers employed has no impact on the quality of provision is both nonsensical and disingenuous."

Mr Flanagan added, "Clearly, there are challenges to be overcome on teacher recruitment in some parts of the country, such as in rural and remote areas.

"But there is simply no excuse for councils where these recruitment challenges do not exist, including some notable large authorities in the central belt, for failing to meet their obligations on teacher numbers and losing out on additional funding as a result.

Minimum Staffing Standard

"The EIS has argued for a number of years for a national minimum staffing standard to be agreed to address issues of teacher numbers and recruitment, but this has been consistently rebuffed by local authorities.

"We are clear that the commitment from Scottish Government to protect teacher numbers as part of the drive to raise standards and close the attainment gap, should be an agenda that local government shares. The EIS has raised these issues with local authority representatives and with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and we await their response."