The Herald attacks ‘deeply flawed concordat’



The Herald newspaper has attacked the agreement between the Scottish government and local authorities that allows those local authorities greater autonomy on how to spend public cash.


The newspaper claims that the freedom granted by the concordat is one of the main reasons that teacher numbers in Scotland have fallen and that pledges on class sizes have not been met.


The Herald editorial states:

“At the heart of the problem lies the deeply flawed concordat, under which local authorities agreed to freeze council tax in return for more freedom in how they spend their budgets. For the SNP administration at Holyrood, this has meant reneging on the manifesto commitment to maintain teacher numbers because the concordat limits their ability to enforce national policy.”


The SNP have now adopted a new legal minimum of 25 pupils per class for P1 and this is seen as an interim measure as they aim for the 18-pupil classes promised for early primary.


The Herald claim comes as it reports that last year 307 Scots teachers were accepted by General Teaching Council for England – up 59 on the previous year.


The figures follow on from a recent report that found that two-thirds of new staff had failed to find full-time permanent work in Scotland almost a year after qualifying.


The initiative to train thousands of extra teachers was introduced first by the Labour administration and then adopted by the SNP; it was seen by both administrations as a way to reduce class sizes.


The Scottish government have acknowledged the problem and have announced plans that will restrict the number of future places available for teacher training in order to address the glut caused by having too many newly qualified teachers and too few places.


The recession has caused a drop in the number of teachers seeking retirement which has led to a less than expected number of vacancies.  Another factor has come about due to local authorities like Glasgow Council refusing to maintain existing teacher numbers and instead spending resources on other areas.


Scottish Labour Party’s education spokesman Des McNulty said: “Scottish education is losing out as a consequence of the SNP denying newly qualified teachers the opportunity to work here.”


However a spokesman for Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “The reality is that the recruitment situation in Scotland is better than anywhere else in the UK.


“The rate of teachers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Scotland is 5.6 per thousand, compared to 8.8 in England, 10.0 in Wales, and 12.0 in Northern Ireland, and the number in Scotland has more than halved from 720 last August to 295 in February.


“Scotland has a world-class teacher training system and other countries will attempt to employ our probationer teachers, but Scotland has not experienced anything like the same recruitment problems as England or elsewhere in the UK.”


Isabel Hutton, education spokeswoman for Cosla said: “We need to balance need with resources, not just in education, but across all council services.


“Schools continue to employ the number of teachers required to deliver the service and they consistently deliver the high-quality education provision demanded of them.”