Nicola Sturgeon challenged on Scotland's 'thousands of teachers on zero-hours contracts'

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged to guarantee permanent jobs for teachers on zero-hours contracts in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the number of teachers on short-term contracts in Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the number of teachers on short-term contracts in Scotland.

Criticised for the number of teachers on “short-term”, casual or zero-hours contracts by the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, the First Minister was asked whether she believed she was treating teachers with respect.

Mr Rennie said he had spoken to a group of teachers who felt left behind by the Scottish Government on the issue.

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He said: “The group speaks for thousands of teachers who are desperate for some certainty and permanent work.

"John Swinney met them last July, he promised “I will give you a full and proper response once I have thought through all of the implications. They are still waiting.

"They saw the government adverts, dreamed of nurturing young minds, but have been stuck on short-term or zero hours contracts for years and now they are thinking of leaving the profession.

"Does the First Minister believe this is treating teachers with respect?”

Responding, the First Minister said she didn’t see “any reason” why teachers should be in such a position saying it was local authorities who hire teachers.

She added that the Scottish Government had helped fund the recruitment of 1,400 teachers during the pandemic with an additional £45m in new funding for education recovery announced in January.

However Mr Rennie responded: “It is always somebody else’s fault isn’t it.

"This is not a small number of cases, this is thousands and thousands of teachers who were attracted to the profession by this government and John Swinney who is chuntering from his seat.

"He shakes his head but the EIS calls them zero-hours contracts.

"The group of teachers told John Swinney “you have turned your back on us”.

Mentioning teachers who had been forced to work in supermarkets and cafes because it is “impossible to secure a permanent post”, he challenged Ms Sturgeon to “create new permanent teaching posts” and to “guarantee a job” for teachers on short term contracts.

Mr Rennie said: “We must create new permanent teaching post to get rid of this growth in zero-hours contracts and the casualisation of the teaching workforce under this government.

"Will the First Minister guarantee a job for these teachers to help the educational recovery.”

The First Minister replied: "There is no reason for any teacher to be in that position.

"Willie Rennie says that is shifting the blame, it is just a statement of fact. The Scottish Government doesn’t directly employ teachers, the employers of teachers are local authorities and any time a minister in this government stands here and suggests we take responsibilities that lie with local government, people like Willie Rennie stand up and accuse us of centralisation.”

She added that the funding is there to support permanent staff and that the Scottish Government was presiding over more teachers than at any time since 2008.

Ms Sturgeon added that she would encourage local authorities to hire permanently because: “we are going to need more teachers for a long time to come as we continue the work of improving education for all.”

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