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Cosla claims Scottish Government proposals to maintain teacher number are flawed

Rory Mair is leading the  Commission on Highland Democracy
Rory Mair is leading the Commission on Highland Democracy

The local authority group Cosla claims Scottish Government plans to maintain teacher numbers are badly flawed.

The SNP administration is trying to maintain teacher numbers, but most councils claim its is using a blunt instrument that at best will not work and at its worst will unfairly penalise successful local authorities.

It has carried out research that demonstrates there is no link between pupil-teacher ratios as attainment. Its figures show that pupil-teacher ratios in secondary schools went 12.8 in 2002 to 11.7 in 2007 and then back to 12.2 in 2012 while over that period attainment steadily improved.

It claims the idea that teacher numbers are dwindling is “nonsense”. Out of a £5billion council education budget £3billion goes on staff. There are around 51,000 but last year, councils missed the SNP teacher target by just 179 – “equivalent to £7million”

If says results are achieved by good teaching not high teacher numbers.

Classroom skills
Pupil teacher ratios have been questioned 

Cosla chief executive Rory Mair said the government approach of insisting total teacher numbers are maintained does not provide parity between councils. For instance a council like Shetland which has the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in Scotland could be penalised from moving from 10.0 to 10.1 while Edinburgh would not be affected if ratio remained at 14.7.

Cosla also takes exception to the way councils will be judged, as total teacher numbers will be based on the annual survey which counts the number of teachers in classrooms on a single day in September, excluding those who may be sick or away for some other reason, and not the total employed by each council.

Mr Mair said claims the government was forced to impose a deal were “inaccurate and misleading” as just a week went by from first notification by the government to the deputy first minister’s threat in his budget speech.

He claims this is illegal as the government has a duty to consult and to inform councils how the budget will be carried to allow them to plan finances.

“Whatever consultation has gone on about the rest of the budget no consultation went on about this,” Mr Mair said.

“They first gave us this proposal on January 27 and by Wednesday the 4th (Feb) they had imposed the deal.

“It is not just rude it is also not a legal way to behave under the statutes about the way the government is allowed to operate the budget process.”

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