'Disastrous' SNP policy blamed after 1,000 teachers head south of Border
HEADTEACHERS in Scotland must be given more flexibility in how they employ staff after it emerged teachers are registering for work south of the Border, education experts said yesterday.
Reports show more than 1,000 Scottish teachers have signed up to work in England over the last four years.
Last year, the number registering with the General Teaching Council for England rose by 25 per cent on the year before, with the number of Scots signing up increasing from 248 to 307.
It comes after official statistics revealed record numbers of Scots teachers are now unemployed, as cash-strapped councils cut staff to save money.
The problem is the result of a current policy which promises all new graduates a year's work in a school while they complete probation to achieve full teacher status. However, after that year there is no guarantee of a job and many are ousted to make way for the latest band of graduates.
In the wake of the latest figures, teaching unions accused the Scottish Government of breaking its promise to maintain teacher numbers.
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS, said: "It is troubling that so many Scottish-trained teachers are now looking outside our borders to find employment. It is Scotland's education system and its pupils who have the most to lose through this increasing migration of some of our brightest young teaching talents."
Isabel Hutton, education spokeswoman for council umbrella body Cosla, said: "Schools continue to employ the number of teachers required to deliver the service and they consistently deliver the high-quality education provision demanded of them."
In reaction to growing unemployment in the profession, the Scottish Government announced large decreases in the number of teacher training places to reduce the numbers coming into the profession.
Liz Smith, Conservative schools spokeswoman, blamed the potential migration of teachers south of the Border on the Scottish Government's "disastrous" education policies.
She said: "Many people give up other careers to go into teacher training and it is a huge worry, particularly at a time of severe economic recession, that so many are facing such a bleak future.
"Given the severe financial constraints on local authorities, we need far more emphasis on removing the rigidities within the labour market for teachers, most especially the geographical immobility which reduces the numbers of teachers willing to work outside the main cities and Central Belt area, and the inflexibilities which headteachers face when they want to advertise for new jobs."
Allowing headteachers to offer greater pay for teachers in hard-to-fill jobs such as those in rural areas and deprived communities could encourage teachers to take up jobs in Scotland rather than move to cities in England.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The reality is that the recruitment situation in Scotland is better than anywhere else in the UK."
In its election manifesto, the SNP promised to maintain the number of teachers at 53,000, despite falling numbers of children, so as to reduce class sizes.
However, official statistics show that since coming to power, the government has presided over a drop in teacher numbers of 2,000.
MOVING TO ENGLAND
THE number of Scottish teachers accepted on to the General Teaching Council for England's register rose by 25 per cent last year against the year before.
Figures obtained using Freedom of Information legislation showed that there was a rise from 248 acceptances the previous year to 307 last year.
In total, 1,000 teachers who qualified to teach in Scotland have registered to teach in England over the past four years.
The annual estimated cost of training teachers in Scotland is 85 million.
Since the SNP came to power in Scotland, the number of teachers has dropped from 53,000 to 51,000.
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