99 Fewer Teachers in Dundee :  SNP Education Convener challenged to answer questions

8 November 2011

Councillor Laurie Bidwell Labour group spokesperson on Education on Dundee City Council has returned to the issue of 99 fewer teachers in Dundee , challenging SNP Education Convener Liz Fordyce to answer a series of related questions.

Laurie Bidwell said,

"While Councillor Fordyce pretends that the number of teachers we employ in our city doesn't make a difference to the quality of education we provide, her own SNP government in Holyrood has been urging and funding councils to maintain teacher numbers.

"In October 2010 the Government's Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell said,

‘To avoid further shrinkage of our teacher workforce, we need local authorities to do what they can not to allow further drops in teacher numbers. […] We need local authorities not to look on each retiring teacher as an opportunity to save money, but to recruit recently qualified teachers.’

(Scottish Parliament Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee 2010 b)

"Does Councillor Fordyce think that Mike Russell is misguided in encouraging and financing the maintenance of our teacher workforce?

"In November 2010 the Scottish Government and COSLA agreed to:

ensure that are enough vacancies as there are teachers completing their probationary year in June 2011

to reduce teacher unemployment

to provide an extra £15m in the local government settlement for teacher employment

(John Swinney 2010, quoted in briefing on Teacher Numbers from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre : http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/2643/1/SB11-08.pdf  )

"Does Councillor Fordyce think that the Council will be financially penalised by the Scottish Government for reducing the number of its teachers despite receiving more grant to stabilise teacher numbers?

"On the agenda of the Policy and Resources Committee of the Council meeting next Monday is a proposal to renew the Council's scheme to provide financial incentives to encourage the early retirement of more of our teachers.

"Is the Education Convener prepared to commit to filling the posts of retiring teachers in Dundee with a recently qualified teacher?

"If not, it seems likely that this scheme will have the effect of further reducing the number of teachers in our schools in Dundee."


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