Teacher Contracts

General Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at on 9 May 2024.

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Photo of Marie McNair Marie McNair Scottish National Party

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what work it is doing to ensure that teachers get permanent contracts. (S6O-03412)

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

Although the employment of teachers is a matter for local authorities, we are providing local authorities with an additional £145.5 million in this year’s budget to protect teacher numbers. That will provide assurance of dedicated funding and should remove any uncertainty that is a barrier to councils employing staff on permanent contracts.

Photo of Marie McNair Marie McNair Scottish National Party

I raise the issue on behalf of one of my constituents. I welcome the cabinet secretary’s acknowledgement of the importance of the matter in ensuring that we have the best possible teacher resource in our schools. Scotland has the lowest pupil teacher ratios in state-maintained schools and the highest starting rate for qualified teachers in the United Kingdom. Does the cabinet secretary agree that such matters need to continue to be prioritised to ensure that teachers get the support that they need to provide an excellent teaching environment in our schools?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I agree with the sentiment that is behind the member’s question. As the member has alluded to, the Government continues to value our teaching profession, which is why Scotland has the best-paid teachers in comparison with anywhere else in the UK and, of course, the lowest pupil teacher ratio. However, we need to do more. I am determined that we will make progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap. That is why we have provided an additional £145 million in this year’s budget to protect teacher numbers.

For the member’s information, I have just come from an instructive meeting with the Educational Institute of Scotland where we talked about the issue and some of the solutions that it has suggested for how we might provide better protection. I know from experience that there are various practices in relation to teacher recruitment across the country. It is really important that our teachers, who are supported through their training by the Scottish Government, can flourish in their teaching careers. That is why the issue remains a focus for me. I have asked the strategic board for teacher education to provide me with further advice, and I would be happy to write to the member with more detail to provide to her constituent.