Created on: 25 Jan 2018 | Last modified: 24 Aug 2018
1. The Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland's largest education union, welcomes this opportunity to provide a written response to the report published by the Scottish Parliament's Local Government & Communities Committee.
2. The EIS remains concerned that the Committee chose not to take evidence from Scotland's largest teacher union, representing over 80% of Scotland's teachers and lecturers, particularly as some weight seems to have been given to anecdotal testimony from a small number of individuals.
3. The EIS is concerned, also, that there seem to be presumptions in the report concerning the outcome of the Governance review when in fact further periods of consultation are envisaged e.g. that the General Teaching Council for Scotland will be replaced by an Education Workforce Council for Scotland (EWCS)and that the EWCS's functions are pre- determined, despite the fact that the Government1 announced in June 2017 that it will be:
"Consulting on establishing an Education Workforce Council for Scotland… The full scope of the functions to be undertaken by this body will be included in our consultation on our Education Bill in autumn 2017."
4. Notwithstanding these reservations, the EIS will seek to respond to the Report's main Conclusions and Recommendations.
5. The Committee appreciates that teacher recruitment is a concern internationally and that some of the challenges are not specific to Scotland. However, based on the evidence received, there is clearly scope in Scotland to: improve workforce planning processes; make teaching more appealing and improve retention levels; remove barriers for those wanting to become teachers; and ensure student teachers feel, and are, sufficiently equipped for the classroom. This report therefore makes over 30 recommendations.
Whilst the EIS recognises that there are trends internationally around teacher recruitment, particularly related to economic fallout from the 2008 financial crash, we believe, as does the Committee, that teacher recruitment challenges within Scotland have specific Scottish roots and may be resolved by steps taken here in Scotland.
6. The Committee recommends that the Government should commission an independent evaluation of the data required to inform its national workforce planning The Committee also requests a response to this report from the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group (TWPAG) detailing its position on each of the suggestions for improvement received in evidence.
The EIS notes this recommendation. Whilst we do not wish to return to the situation of excessive teacher unemployment, a not too distant experience, it is clear that there are new trends in play such as newly qualified teachers working abroad before considering taking up post in Scotland and factors such as these require to be evaluated and factored in to estimates. It should be noted, however, that the TWPAG is a functional rather than a policy making group so it is necessary to look beyond the workings of that body in order to address the issues we face currently.
7. The Committee further recommends that TWPAG works with the Government, education authorities, teacher training institutions and any other relevant parties to ensure the data that will make its processes better informed is collated and provided to it in a timely fashion and as frequently as Specifically, the relationship between TWPAG and local authorities needs to be developed further. This should include the collation of data at a local level on the level of need for teachers as opposed to focusing on vacancies. Where any bodies do not agree to provide the necessary information, to the extent that TWPAG's work is inhibited, the Committee would ask that this matter is highlighted to it.
The EIS notes this recommendation. It should however be recognised that Scotland's Universities have struggled to fulfil quotas in some subject areas and not just STEM subjects – English emerging recently as an area where post graduate places were left unfilled. This suggests that the teacher recruitment challenge is about more than more accurate planning with the attractiveness of the career and remuneration being key elements, requiring to be addressed.
8. The Committee recommends that there should also be an increased focus on localised planning. The evaluation of required data should assess what information collated at a local level would inform TWPAG's Localised planning, and associated ITE placements, twinned with education authority efforts to attract candidates locally, should assist in improving targeted recruitment.