Teachers numbers are to be protected in Scotland’s schools next year, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
All 32 councils have signed up to a deal which would see their budgets cut if numbers drop below the current level after a bitter stand-off with the SNP Government, the First Minister told MSPs.
But angry council leaders say they have been forced into accepting the deal with a “gun at their heads.”
Teaching leaders have welcomed the move saying it is essential to maintain the “high level of education” in classrooms across the country.
Education secretary Angela Constance said: “I’ve been clear that the quality and capacity of our teaching workforce is key to giving our most disadvantaged children greater opportunities to excel in school and to get the best start in life – supported by initiatives such as our recently-announced £100 million Attainment Scotland Fund.
“Our discussions with local authorities have been positive and productive and I’m delighted that we have now secured agreements right across Scotland to provide the right number and highest quality of teachers in our schools.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney last week threatened to effectively cut council budgets by tens of millions of pounds if they do not maintain teacher numbers in the recent budget.
It prompted an angry warning from local government body COSLA that they could take legal action over a lack of consultation.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union welcomed the announcement.
He said: “The EIS has been very clear that maintaining the number of teachers in our schools is vital to ensure a consistent high level of educational experience for pupils across the country.
“Today’s announcement is good news that will be welcomed by parents, teachers and communities throughout Scotland.”
He went on: “In addition to protecting the educational experience of pupils, this agreement will also secure teachers’ jobs and provide opportunities for new entrants into the teaching profession.”
But Cosla President David O’Neill said council’s have been forced to accpet the deal.
“With a gun to your head, it is difficult to make the decisions you might otherwise want to make,” he said.
“Councils once again were left in the invidious position of having to accept this deal or face the most unpalatable of punitive measures. This episode and behaviour has won the Scottish Government no friends and we stand by our accurate claim that they have acted totally unreasonably on this issue, an issue which has certainly not been their cleverest move.
“One final point to end on, yes the government have got their way and have bulldozed through their scheme.”