By Bill Heaney
Scotland’s largest teachers’ union has called on the First Minister to take action on the “lack of job security” among newly qualified teachers.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said today that teachers in recent years have been appointed on short-term, temporary contracts.
The union is urging the Scottish government to increase council funding to pay for more permanent jobs.
The Scottish government said it was “taking strong action” to protect increased teacher numbers.
In a letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said high numbers of temporary contracts had “serious implications” for Scotland’s schools.
She said members had contacted the union over the summer months “in desperation” at the
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Ms Bradley said there was “no hard data” to demonstrate the scale of the problem.
Although local authorities are responsible for teacher recruitment, Ms Bradley said councils needed ring-fenced funding to allow the more permanent posts.
She said: “In the short term it’s about funding, we shouldn’t have teachers sitting at home when we have 34% of children and young people in our schools now with additional support needs.
“When we have hundreds of thousands of them impacted by poverty and that having a negative impact on their educational experience and their outcomes.
“And we are still recovering from a pandemic, this is a time where we need to see more teachers employed permanently in our education system, not fewer.”
She added the long-term staffing strategy for schools had “not served them well”.
The union highlighted that many new staff had entered teacher training following Scottish government recruitment drives in 2016 and 2017.
In her letter to Mr Yousaf, Ms Bradley said: “I ask again that you give this matter urgent consideration and provide additional funding to local authorities that is effectively ring-fenced for the recruitment of additional permanently employed teachers.
“As well as looking carefully at teacher workforce planning for the years ahead to ensure stability and sufficiency of teacher staffing.”
Ms Bradley’s letter comes after the EIS accepted a pay deal in March this year to end long-running school strikes (See pictures of this from a demo in Dumbarton above.)
Teachers received a 7% pay rise backdated to April 2022, with a further 5% awarded and 2% more to come in January.
The EIS, SSTA and NASUWT teaching unions had been in a year-long industrial dispute with councils.
BBC Scotland news reporter Jamie McIvor said today: “The government has acted before to stop councils cutting teacher numbers on financial grounds. Councils get much of their money from the Scottish government. It is possible to earmark some of that for specific purposes.
“The government has warned before it could withhold or recoup funding if a council cuts teacher posts or spends ring-fenced money on something else.
“The EIS argument is, essentially, that a similar mechanism could be used to help ensure new teachers are given permanent jobs rather than temporary ones.
“The worry about undue numbers in temporary posts is part of a longstanding union concern about ensuring teaching is an attractive profession – in part to help address areas where there are recruitment difficulties. Some schools in rural areas may struggle to fill posts or get a good field of candidates.”
West Dunbartonshire Council refused to answer questions from The Democrat.