Scottish Government announces £50 million fund to recruit 1,000 teachers

The Scottish Government has announced millions of pounds of funding to pay for 1,000 teacher positions in the coming academic year.

The funding will pay to recruit 1,000 extra teachers.

It said an additional £50 million will be available for teacher recruitment as schools prepare to return to full-time face-to-face teaching. The cash is the same amount handed out last year to recruit more teachers during the coronavirus pandemic – however many staff ended the academic year unsure if their contracts would be renewed.

The government said 1,000 new teachers would be recruited as a result of the funding, as well as 500 pupil support assistants. Last year, the funding paid for 850 extra teachers and around 200 additional support staff.

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The Government has also said it plans to provide a ring-fenced £65.5 million permanent fund each year to “remove barriers” from councils to allow them to employ the new staff on permanent contracts.

Opposition politicians have described the move as “a first step” in reversing years of cuts to Scotland’s education system.

In 2020, teacher numbers rose by 1,153 to reach 53,400, according to Scottish Government figures, made up of 25,651 primary teachers, 24,077 secondary teachers and 1,934 in dedicated special needs schools. A further 1,009 were centrally employed and 729 were employed in early learning centres.

Ministers had pledged to recruit an extra 1,400 to support the recovery of education during the pandemic and to allow for smaller class sizes. At every stage, there was a reduction in class size, with an average 23.1 pupils per class in 2020, down from 23.5 in 2019 in Scotland.

The total number of pupils rose by 4,208 to 702,197, with 393,957 in primary schools, 300,954 at secondaries and 7,286 at special needs schools.

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Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Michael Marra said: “This is just a first step towards reversing years of SNP cuts. This government must set about undoing their own damage but it comes at a time of unprecedented loss in education. The SNP remain in denial about the scale of the challenges schools face if they think this is a silver bullet.

“This only starts to reverse the SNP’s cuts to education - never mind dealing with the devastation caused by the pandemic.”

He added: “School pupils and teachers alike have been let down time and time again throughout this pandemic. This must all be entirely new funding and must be accompanied by a real education comeback plan to put a stop to this government’s track record of failure and to give families the support they need.”

Newly qualified teachers have warned that they are struggling to find work due to a reliance on temporary contracts and schools using staff in their probation year – the first year after graduation – to plug gaps. Last month, hundreds of qualified teachers in Scotland launched a twitter campaign to mass tweet education secretary Shirley Anne Somerville to complain about the recruitment practices which have left many of them unable to secure work.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Our vision for Covid recovery and our priorities for Scottish education remain unchanged.

“Recruiting more permanent staff will be one of the cornerstones of recovery alongside the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff-intensified support for reducing inequity and enabling the highest quality of learning and teaching.”

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