Increase of 500 teachers in Scotland, figures show
Number of teachers increases by 543 from 2016, but still more than 3,500 fewer than a decade ago
School pencils - credit Mark Bonica
The number of teachers working in Scottish schools has risen by 543, according to official figures.
A total of 51,513 teachers were employed in state-run primary, secondary and special schools across Scotland this year, with an average class size of 23.5.
The annual Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland report also shows 506 of the 543 increase were recruited with money from the Scottish Government’s Attainment Scotland Fund, which goes straight to head teachers.
Education Secretary John Swinney said the figures showed the policy to give attainment funding to schools “is paying off”.
“Hundreds of additional teachers are now in Scottish classrooms, benefiting pupils the length and breadth of Scotland, as a result of that decision. That’s good news for teachers, parents and pupils.”
Opposition parties pointed out there are still more than 3,500 fewer teachers in Scotland than a decade ago, and called for more money for councils in Thursday’s budget.
Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray said money targeted for closing the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils should not have been used for covering cuts to core budgets.
“It was Labour who led the debate on targeted spending to close the attainment gap, but the SNP approach has been to introduce it while slashing core education budgets, forcing schools to use what is supposed to be additional money to plug gaps in provision,” he said.
Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said proposed governance reforms “will do nothing to solve the huge challenges Scottish education faces as a result of austerity”.
A spokesperson for councils umbrella body COSLA welcomed the figures.
“There is no doubt that many councils, facing shortages in certain subjects and in some communities, have gone the extra distance to ensure that all children and young people have the teachers they need," he said.
“However, this must be seen in light of the reduction in real terms of local authority budgets. We also need to endeavour to ensure there are other key professionals required to improve the lives of children.”
The General Teaching Council for Scotland said the teacher number figures had been boosted by efforts to recruit teachers from abroad, particularly the EU.
Chief executive Ken Muir said: “We are pleased to see this evidence of the successful work GTCS has done throughout 2017 to register teachers from Scotland and the rest of the world in preparation for taking up jobs in Scottish schools.”
The number of vacancies in Scottish schools has been a cause of concern in recent months, with 507 permanent vacancies recorded in secondary schools, and a quarter of university training places unfilled.
Teaching union the EIS said addressing teacher pay will ease the situation.
General secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS welcomes the fact that there has been a reported overall rise in the number of teachers employed in Scotland - although we are disappointed to see yet another drop in the number of teachers working in early years and have concerns over the sustainability of posts funded through Attainment Challenge money."
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