Teachers’ leaders have insisted that pledges to take on more staff for Scotland’s classrooms must be met “no matter what” happens in Thursday’s Holyrood election.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said it was “significant” that all the main parties running for office had committed to recruiting thousands more teachers.
It comes after pupils across Scotland have had their education disrupted over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EIS said it wanted the focus in the coming years to be on “supporting an education-led recovery that will benefit the whole of Scotland”.
Mr Flanagan added: “Absolutely central to this is the need to employ more teachers in our schools to support young people in education recovery.”
He stated: “The Covid pandemic has had a profound impact on the educational experience of many young people across the country, with the most damaging negative impact often being experienced by those already facing significant disadvantage.
“Supporting an education-led recovery to allow all young people a fair opportunity to achieve their full potential must be the top priority for the next Scottish Parliament.”
Both the Tories and Labour have pledged to recruit some 3,000 teachers over the course of the next five-year Holyrood term, with the SNP saying it will recruit “at least 3,500 additional teachers and classroom assistants” if re-elected to power.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are offering a “teacher job guarantee” that no teacher should be unemployed or feel underemployed when the new school term begins in August, while the Scottish Greens have pledged to recruit 5,500 additional permanent teaching staff.
Mr Flanagan said it was “significant, and also welcome, that there appears to be consensus between Scotland’s main political parties on the need to employ more teachers to support education recovery”.
He stressed the union, pupils and parents would all “fully expect the commitments made on recruiting more teachers and supporting education recovery to be delivered no matter what the result of this election”.
Mr Flanagan said: “Given the agreement, across the political spectrum, of the importance of employing more teachers, we will expect the Scottish Parliament to work on a collaborative basis to deliver this commitment.”
Meanwhile, as it is councils that employ teachers, he also stressed the next Scottish Government must work with the local authority body Cosla to ensure more teachers are taken on.
“While the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government set national policy on education, it is local authorities who employ teachers,” Mr Flanagan said.
“In the past, we have seen frustrating examples of national commitments on teacher recruitment not being delivered in some parts of the country.
“Given the importance of employing more teachers to support the national recovery from Covid, Scotland’s local authorities, and their representative body Cosla, must work with the Scottish Government to deliver these commitments on employing more teachers and supporting an education-led recovery.
“The EIS, and Scotland’s voters, will be watching closely and will expect all commitments to be delivered in full.”