Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, Iain Gray, said supply teachers should have been used to meet the challenges of remote learning while schools have been closed to all pupils bar the children of key workers.
He said despite a pledge by John Swinney to utilise all of Scotland’s teachers to facilitate the move to online and blended learning, many have been left entirely without work and the Educational Institute for Scotland has reported they now face ‘significant financial hardship’.
Mr Gray said: “Hundreds of supply teachers have been forgotten. Many face financial hardship and are unable to rely on furlough funds – this is unacceptable. Scottish Labour is calling for the immediate re-introduction of the Supply Teachers Job Retention Payment to tackle this crisis. It’s time for John Swinney to bring our supply teachers in from the cold and get them to work.”
Mr Gray said one Aberdeen-based supply teacher had told him it felt as if Mr Swinney had “thrown us under the bus”.
However the Scottish Government said the issue was one for councils to resolve. “The recruitment and employment of supply teachers in local authority schools are matters for individual councils. The Scottish Government is firmly of the view that we will need all possible teaching resources at our disposal to compensate for any loss of learning suffered since the start of the pandemic, as well as to bring much needed resilience to the education system at this challenging time.
“We have invested heavily through providing £80m of additional investment in education staff, which is sufficient for the recruitment of around 1,400 additional teachers and 200 support staff this year, and a further £45m of new funding to support the delivery of remote learning. The new funding can be used to recruit further staff, which might include teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, home school link workers or other support workers. This should allow more supply teachers to be recruited where they are needed.”