Deal Reached On Teacher Numbers

21 February 2015, 06:20

All but one of Scotland's councils have agreed to a deal which will see them maintain teacher numbers, the Scottish Government said.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced in his Budget that councils would lose cash if they cut teaching staff or increased the ratio of pupils to teachers in their area.

Councils will only receive their share of £51 million of government cash if they meet the conditions on teacher numbers.

Talks are ongoing with one remaining local authority on the issue, while others have indicated they will sign up to individual agreements, Education Secretary Angela Constance said.

But local government body Cosla said councils had been left with "Hobson's Choice'' and the SNP administration had "bulldozed through their scheme''.

Ms Constance said: "Talks with local authorities have been positive and productive and we are pleased that we are working together to provide the right number and highest quality of teachers in our schools. This will ensure our pupils have the best education possible.

"Teacher number commitments have been part of the local government finance settlements since 2011/12. We are offering councils £51 million - including an additional £10 million over and above last year's settlement - specifically to support teacher numbers.

"Education in schools is getting better, with record exam results and record numbers of school leavers in work, education or training and this Government has made it our top priority to continue that improvement and to raise attainment for all of Scotland's children.''

Cosla president David O'Neill said: "It is fair to say that very few councils have signed up to their individual deal with a spring in their step and it is both wrong and totally misleading to present this in this manner. Put simply, councils have been left with Hobson's Choice and I cannot allow the Scottish Government to traduce Cosla.

"With a gun to your head, it is difficult to make the decisions you might otherwise want to make. Councils once again were left in the invidious position of having to accept this deal or face the most unpalatable of punitive measures.

"This episode and behaviour has won the Scottish Government no friends and we stand by our accurate claim that they have acted totally unreasonably on this issue, an issue which has certainly not been their cleverest move.

"Yes, the Government have got their way and have bulldozed through their scheme. This is not a local government scheme and had we devised it, it would not have looked like this. When this goes wrong the public should remember that.''

Cosla has argued its research shows there is no link between how well youngsters perform in exams and the pupil to teacher ratio. This has been contested by the EIS teaching union and the Scottish Government.