Willie Rennie has set out plans to guarantee a job for every teacher and a minimum starting salary of £30,000 as part of the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Holyrood election campaign launch.
Speaking from the seat of a giant deckchair in South Queensferry, overlooking the Firth of Forth, Mr Rennie said his party’s plans would boost the teaching profession and put recovery first for education.
The Lib Dems are calling for more in-class support to help young people better reach their potential and a guaranteed job for every teacher to reduce class sizes.
They also want to see an end to the “casualisation” of the teaching profession that has risked people leaving jobs because one in 10 teachers are currently on short-term or casual contracts.
The party would “substantially reform” the SQA and Education Scotland to put serving teachers at the heart of their processes.
‘Our plan for teachers will be good for education’
A review of workloads and conditions for teachers, and a minimum starting salary of £30,000, would be introduced to help attract the best graduates into teaching. Newly qualified teachers currently start on a salary of £27,498 in their probation year.
The party has also called for a new “teacher premium” for schools in disadvantaged areas consisting of pay supplements designed to attract and reward the best teachers for the schools in greatest need.
It wants to introduce new, optional, three-year packages for probationer teachers consisting of the current one-year probationary period plus two further guaranteed years to help councils get graduates to take up posts in certain geographical areas.
Mr Rennie said: “Teachers must be at the heart of our education recovery. Our plan for teachers will be good for education.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have already secured an extra £80 million for education in the budget but we want to go much further.
‘We need to invest in the teaching profession’
“Our education bounce back plan offers unprecedented new entitlements and resources for pupils. Staff are critical to all of the good things we want to do.
“They have worked flat out to give everyone the best education possible over the last year. But they deserve better from the government.”
He added: “To help children and young people bounce back from the disruption to their education we need to invest in the teaching profession.
“Our country is stronger when every individual is able to achieve their potential but the independent report this week showed a yawning attainment gap and progress falling short.
“My Scottish Liberal Democrats have an ambitious and comprehensive plan to help children and young people bounce back. It puts the recovery first.”