Today, the Scottish Government’s education secretary brushed off a question from Mike Rumbles MSP, over low teacher morale in schools in Aberdeenshire, by claiming that staff in Glasgow are feeling ‘buoyant’. The minister’s response contradicts recent revelations that local teacher recruitment in is in crisis and ignores the ‘Value Education, Value Teachers’ letter writing campaign highlighting that low pay and a lack of resources are responsible for undermining local education services.
The question tabled by the North East Liberal Democrat MSP, in a session of question and answers in the Scottish Parliament today, asked the Cabinet Secretary what ‘specifically he can do to help improve staff morale’ in the region.
It was motivated by recent news that £7.3 million was spent on supply teachers, in Aberdeenshire alone last year, and that pay and conditions contributed to 132 vacant teaching posts in local schools. Including one post in Peterhead that was re-advertised six times.
Mr Rumbles said: “I would not be surprised if teachers in Aberdeenshire felt flummoxed by the education secretary’s astonishing response on low staff morale in the region. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how staff in Glasgow are feeling, although I suspect the minister might not have been speaking for all of them when he gave his answer.
“This side-step routine by Scottish Government ministers has become the norm, every time a question of resources and underfunding in local services in the North East is raised. It would be comical if it wasn’t for that fact that our children’s education is at stake.
“We need the minister to first and foremost acknowledge the issue with morale and staff retention in the North East and then we need a proper programme of investment to put our local education services back on track. It appears that this government simply is not up to the task of achieving that.”
Notes for editors:
- For the full Portfolio Question and response go to 14:34 at: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/
- Text of the Value Education, Value Teachers’ letter writing campaign follows:
“I write to seek your support, as my MSP, for the "Value Education Value Teachers" campaign, including the pay claim for a 10% increase. As you will be aware, the Scottish Government is one of three key players in the SNCT (Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers), alongside COSLA and the teaching unions, and its intervention is critical to the outcome of discussions.
Over the past decade, the attractiveness of teaching as a profession has been undermined. As teachers, we have suffered a 20% real-terms pay cut since 2008; this has been the price of an austerity driven pay policy which has made public sector workers pay for the mistakes of the bankers.
Indeed, Scottish education is on the brink of a recruitment crisis, with Initial Teacher Education courses being unfilled, newly qualified teachers failing to move into the profession, and significant numbers of teachers over 45 leaving early. Do you wish to see unqualified staff in front of classes or part time education in this ward?
Despite unprecedented levels of change and political interference, excessive workloads, and reduced external support – Scottish teachers have stayed focussed on what is important; our pupils. But goodwill is not endless, and delivery has come at significant cost to the wellbeing of many in our profession.
I am asking you, as my MSP, to make clear to Scottish Government, your support for the teachers’ pay claim and your desire to avoid the threat of industrial action in our schools by the reaching a negotiated settlement within the SNCT discussions.”