Local MSP Jackie Baillie has called on the SNP Government to make public its guidance to local authorities on the teacher numbers agreement following claims from a trade union that head teachers are coming under considerable pressure to supply misleading information to council officials.
The Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland said that senior teachers have been asked to count special advisers and staff working on short-term temporary contracts as part of their school’s permanent teaching complement. As many as 15 head teachers have said they feel under pressure to deliver results that will allow the local authority to claim that teacher numbers have been maintained at last year’s levels. If the number of teachers in schools across the region drops this year Argyll and Bute Council could lose out on £800,000 under an agreement with the Scottish Government.
In response to the concerns raised by the trade union, a spokesperson from Argyll and Bute Council has said that it will be ‘submitting figures in line with Scottish Government guidance’.
Jackie held a meeting with SNP Education Secretary and local parents over the summer holidays after it emerged that there will be a net loss of five full-time teachers in Helensburgh and Lomond despite teacher numbers being maintained across the region.
Now, following the questions raised by the Head Teachers’ union over the accuracy of the figures, Jackie has written to the Scottish Government to clarify its guidance to local authorities and whether the figures will include short-term staff and special advisers.
“The very serious allegations from senior teachers that Argyll and Bute Council is cooking the books on teacher numbers deserves immediate attention from the Scottish Government. When families were told that teacher numbers would not fall again this year people expected this to mean full-time teachers in our local classrooms -; not staff sitting in the Council’s education department. The SNP Government needs to spell out exactly what guidance it has issued to local authorities so we can judge for ourselves whether Argyll and Bute Council is fulfilling its end of the bargain.
“Children in Helensburgh and Lomond have already been let down by the reduction of nearly five-full time teaching posts from our area to boost numbers in Oban and Lorn. We need an urgent investigation into this matter to ensure that there are no doubts about the real number of teachers in our classrooms