Commenting on the Report on Staffing Levels in Dundee Schools - Education Committee Monday 26 October 2015

The report from the Director of Children and Families' Service paints a varied picture. It is positive that at a time of shortage of teachers across the country the Council has managed to compete more effectively for potential staff. It also positive that the 1412.5 teachers in post is more than the 1407 teachers counted in 2014. But the fact remains, this is still a significant drop from September 2013 when the Council had 1436 teachers in post.

The report is also selective about what it reveals. On class sizes it does not for example identify the number of classes currently being taught at maximum. In relation to ongoing shortages of supply teachers, neither does the report refer to how secondary schools are having to improvise supply cover nor how primary schools are covering the non contact time of primary teachers which they use towards preparation and marking.

At the meeting on Monday 26 October, we shall want reassurance that strategies are in place for Dundee to recruit the teachers it needs as competition for teachers sharpens between councils. Councils in the Highlands and Islands have recently had a summit with Angela Constance and have agreed to work together on recruitment and promoting alternative routes to teacher qualification. What are our plans for Dundee?

This performance is not what the SNP promised at the May 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament. 
In their Teachers' Manifesto May 2011, they committed to:
'Bring stability to teacher numbers by ensuring councils stick to the agreed minimum number of posts.'

It is significant that here in Dundee, this is the first year since 2011 that a year by year reduction in teacher numbers has been halted. It will take more than one year to be convinced that our SNP led Council now really means business on maintaining teacher numbers in our schools.