Education Minister John Swinney, Jackie Baillie MSP and EIS representative James Halfpenny.

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire EIS teaching union today welcomed the decision to cancel next year’s Higher and Advanced Higher exams in Scottish schools.

Jim Halfpenny, the local EIS representative, also made a plea for teachers to be compensated through their salary for the extra workload that will fall to teachers.

He said: “Under present conditions it is clear that teacher judgement through school based assessment will be a much fairer system than a final exam.

“However, we remain concerned that John Swinney and the Scottish Government come late to this decision which the EIS has argued for sometime.

“This indecision and procrastination has caused much anxiety among teachers, pupils and parents.

“Mr Swinney now has to overcome what increasing looks like political incompetence in the management of schools and show regard for teachers views.

“Apart from his need to recognise the clear dangers to health and safety in schools he now needs to reach agreement on the ‘additional workload’ that would be created for teachers by the alternative assessment programme.”

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has called out the Scottish Government for its failure to return teacher numbers to the level that they were when it assumed power in 2007, despite the COVID-19 recruitment drive.

Statistics published today have revealed that the number of full-time equivalent teachers in Scotland’s schools is 1,700 fewer than when the SNP assumed office in 2007.

The statistics also show that the ratio of pupils to teachers in Scotland’s secondary schools is at its highest since 2013.

Ms Baillie, who represents Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond,  has said that these statistics demonstrate the failure of the SNP to properly support pupils by boosting teacher numbers over its 13 years in power. 

She said:  Today’s statistics are clear evidence that the Scottish Government has failed to boost teacher numbers and support pupils despite being in power for over a decade.

“Despite improvements on last year’s statistics, the SNP is still unable to match the level of teachers provided by the Scottish Labour-led Executive in 2007.

“Scotland’s pupils have endured a wasted 13 years under the SNP. It’s time for the Scottish Government to take action to reverse the damage it has done to schooling in Scotland.”

Year FTE Teachers (inc. ELC) PTR (secondary, based in schools) Average class size of primary school pupils (Primary) P1-P3 pupils by class size (% in classes of 18 or fewer or in 2 teacher classes of 36 or fewer)
2020 53,400 12.5 23.1 14
2007 55,100 11.6 22.8 15.3
Comparison -1,700 0.9 0.3 -1.3


Table 2.1: Schools, pupils, teachers and PTR          
Pupils – Headcount; Teachers – Full Time Equivalents (FTE)          
  2013 2014 2015(1) 2016 2017 2018(6) 2019 2020
Pupil Teacher Ratios                
          Secondary 12.2 12.2 12.2 12.2 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5



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