Measures to Safeguard Education
Measures to ensure that teacher and pupil support staff numbers as well as school hours are protected have been announced by Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
The Scottish Government has committed to increasing teacher numbers by 3,500 during this Parliament.
Since 2017/18, local authorities have received funding to protect the pupil-teacher ratio and teacher numbers, and to provide places for all probationers who need one.
Additional annual funding of £145.5 million is also being provided to maintain increased teacher numbers and support staff. In the year ahead (2023/24), the Scottish Government will withhold or recoup funding allocated for these purposes if this is not delivered by a local authority.
Regulations will also be introduced under legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 to enshrine a statutory minimum number of school hours.
Earlier this week in Parliament, Graeme raised the concern about councils potentially moving to cut both teacher numbers and school hours despite the £145.5m funding.
This is an important intervention by the Scottish Government to ensure that funding allocated to councils is achieving the goal it is intended for.
I raised concerns in this regard in the Education, Children & Young People Committee, and then in a parliamentary question to the Education Secretary earlier this week.
The Scottish Government is absolutely determined to boosting teacher numbers and closing the attainment gap.
Local authorities obviously face budgeting challenges in common with the government, but protecting teacher numbers and school hours is critical if both are to meet common goals for our young people.
– Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville
The measures I have outlined today demonstrate our unyielding commitment to closing the attainment gap and making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.
We are committed to recruiting more teachers and support staff, and we have already provided significant additional funding to Local Authorities to help ensure this happens.
The Scottish Government recognises the challenging budgetary decisions facing councils and that is why the Deputy First Minister has committed to delivering a new deal for local government. However, this Government has a clear commitment to improving education – and maintaining both teacher and support staff numbers and learning hours is crucial to that.
I recognise the importance of strong partnership working between local government, central government and Education Scotland to achieve our ambitions.
I will be writing to COSLA today, and each individual council in the coming days, to set out the details on protecting teacher and support staff numbers, and next steps on learning hours.
The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 contains provisions which allow Minsters to introduce regulations – subject to approval by MSPs – which would specify the minimum number of learning hours per year.
Local authorities received funding (£88 million) since 2017/18 to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio and teacher numbers, and to provide places on the Teacher Induction Scheme for all probationers who need one. The Scottish Government is providing £145.5 million to local authorities this financial year (2022-23) and next (2023-24) to recruit additional teachers and support staff.
There were 54,071 teachers in schools and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings across all local authorities last year (2022), up from 50,842 in 2016, according to the latest Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland report.