Teacher numbers down and post holiday strike looms in local schools
By Bill Heaney
Local secondary schools are facing a serious teacher shortage.
But West Dunbartonshire Council refuses to tell The Democrat how bad things are in our schools and parents are being deliberately kept in the dark.
Labour leader Richard Leonard, pictured right, told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that even active, fully paid up members of the SNP were complaining about the situation.
It had become so bad that there were now 3,000 fewer teachers in our classrooms than there were when the SNP came to power.
Mr Leonard said: “No progress has been made in closing the attainment gap and Scotland is facing its first teachers’ strike since Margaret Thatcher was in Downing Street.
“The First Minister told us again this morning that education is her top priority, but parents do not believe that, teachers do not believe that and now even her own party members do not believe that.
“Can the First Minister tell us why anybody in Scotland should believe that education is her top priority?”
Nicola Sturgeon hit back: “Teacher numbers are rising. Richard Leonard cannot deny that, because the numbers speak clearly for themselves.
“The number of teachers in our primary schools is at its highest level since 1980.
“I think that the number of teachers overall is at its highest level since around 2010, so teacher numbers are rising.
“We are seeing the attainment gap start to close. It is not true for Richard Leonard to say that that is not the case.”
On the possibility of a teachers’ strike after the Christmas holidays, the First Minister said: “Richard Leonard commented on the prospect of industrial action in our schools. I do not want to see that happen and I will work as hard as I can to avoid it.
“That is why, thanks to SNP councillors and others at COSLA [Convention of Scottish LOcal Authorities] on Friday, a revised offer on pay has been made to teachers.
“Labour councillors at COSLA voted against making a revised offer. If it had been down to Labour councillors at COSLA, there would be no revised offer to teachers on the table and, as a result, industrial action would be closer.”