Scotland’s biggest teaching union has accused local authority group Cosla of “ambivalence” towards maintaining teacher numbers.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said ten councils employ fewer teachers than they did last year, despite a £51 million funding allocation from the Scottish Government.
Councils which have failed to meet their commitments may now be subject to a financial penalty from the Scottish Government. No decision will be made on this until the draft budget is announced this week.
The biggest drop was in Argyll and Bute, where there were 31 fewer teachers. Other councils that have fewer teachers this year are Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, the Scottish Borders and Stirling.
In total across Scotland there were 50,717 full-time equivalent teachers in September compared with 50,720 last year.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It is profoundly disappointing that ten local authorities, having signed agreements and accepted additional funding, have failed on their teacher number commitments.
“The claim by Cosla that the number of teachers employed has no impact on the quality of provision is both nonsensical and disingenuous.”
He added: “Clearly, there are challenges to be overcome on teacher recruitment in some parts of the country, such as in rural and remote areas. But there is simply no excuse for councils where these recruitment challenges do not exist, including some notable large authorities in the Central Belt, for failing to meet their obligations on teacher numbers.”
Stephanie Primrose, Cosla’s education spokeswoman, questioned the policy on teacher numbers.
She said: “It is an overly simplistic, poorly devised and damaging policy that somehow magically equates a random number of teachers gathered on one day in September with how well children perform at school. It is the educational equivalent of theologians debating the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.
“It is now increasingly hard to separate out government and EIS policy on teachers and education.”
She added: “The EIS should be ashamed by their actions.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This government is committed to ensuring we have the right number of teachers, with the right skills, in the right places to educate our young people.”