‘We have been conned’ says Labour as teacher numbers fall 3,690 under SNP

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THERE are 3,690 fewer teachers working in Scotland’s schools now than in 2007, when the SNP came to power, official statistics show.

Figures released by the Scottish Government yesterday showed there are a total of 51,410 teachers in pre-schools and state schools, compared with 55,100 five years ago.

If the number of “centrally employed” teachers is discounted, those teachers including supply staff who are not allocated to a specific school or classroom, the number lost fell further to 3,902.

While pupil numbers have risen alongside the fall in teacher numbers, there were 13.4 pupils per teacher in 2012, the same as the previous year.

Since 2007, however, the pupil/teacher ratio has gone from 15.8 to 16.3 pupils per teacher in primary schools and 11.6 to 12.2 in secondaries.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, Hugh Henry, said: “Alex Salmond came to power in 2007 promising to maintain teacher numbers at 54,136. He quickly ditched this and is now trying to blame local councils for the reduction of 3,902. It was his promise and he has conned both teachers and parents.

“No wonder so many newly qualified teachers are finding it hard to get a job.

“The figures show the shocking reality of the SNP’s broken promise on teacher numbers.”

But Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to keeping teacher numbers above an agreed minimum.

He said: “In 2011, as part of a package of changes to secure employment for teachers, the EIS agreed … the minimum number of teachers in Scotland should be at least 51,131. This figure was met in 2011 and has been met again in 2012.

“While there is a slight upward trend in pupil numbers, the commitment to maintain teacher numbers has been met. We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to teacher employment.”

He added: “The EIS is concerned, however, that 12 per cent of teachers are on temporary contracts. The lack of security in employment is a factor in driving teachers to find secure employment elsewhere.”