An education union has called on the First Minister of Scotland to take action on the “lack of job security” among newly qualified teachers.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) is the largest teaching union in the country, and said Scottish teachers in recent years have been appointed on short-term, temporary contracts.
The union said this has meant a growing number of teachers are leaving the profession to find job security elsewhere, adding this has had “serious implications for the Scottish educational system”.
In a letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley wrote on the “urgent matter of precarity of employment for thousands of teachers in Scotland, whose professional and personal lives are in turmoil, as a result of the lack of the job security that many were led to believe they would have by entering the teaching profession”.
She said she had raised the issue with the First Minister in early June.
The letter continues: “I appreciated the concern that you expressed at the time and have become increasingly concerned myself as more and more members have contacted the EIS over the summer months in desperation at the prospect of no work when the new school session begins”.
Ms Bradley said the newly qualified teachers’ years of study that they have undertaken shows they are committed to children, young people and to their profession.
She said their commitment often comes with “significant personal sacrifice and expense; through the successful completion of a rigorous probationary year and through the achievement of an exacting suite of professional standards”.
The letter adds: “In embarking on such a path, many will have done so in direct response to the Scottish Government’s own ‘Inspiring Teachers’ and ‘Teaching Makes People’ recruitment campaigns of 2016 and 2017, which rightly sought to bring more graduates into the profession.
“Regrettably for the thousands of teachers who undertook their ITE courses in good faith, the long-term staffing strategy for education has not served them well.”
The letter ends: “Not only does the staffing situation that I’ve outlined negatively impact the lives and wellbeing of thousands of teachers, to the point that many are simply leaving or plan to leave the teaching profession in Scotland, the EIS believes that it falls short of delivering the quality of education that children and young people in Scotland should have the benefit of at all times, and particularly as our education system struggles to recover from the pandemic, and our most socio-economically disadvantaged children and young people from blow after blow of Westminster-driven austerity on their education.
“On behalf of the EIS, I ask again that you give this matter urgent consideration and provide additional funding to local authorities that is effectively ringfenced for the recruitment of additional permanently employed teachers, as well as looking carefully at teacher workforce planning for the years ahead to ensure stability and sufficiency of teacher staffing within our schools ongoingly.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that while teachers are employed by local authorities and not the government, it is “taking strong action to protect increased teacher numbers” and is offering councils an additional £145.5 million in the 2023 budget.
They added: “Over the past 10 years the number of teachers in permanent posts has remained stable at over 80%, and since December 2014 the number of school teachers in post has increased by 8%, from 49,521 to 53,459 in December 2022.
“The Strategic Board for Teacher Education, which is made up of a range of education bodies, is looking at issues around the recruitment and retention of teachers in Scotland in detail.
“This includes, for example, geographical and subject-specific issues, as well as how we can increase diversity within the profession and improve support for early career teachers.”
“More broadly the Education Secretary has discussed the national picture on recruitment with Cosla, and she looks forward to working with our councils on the issue of recruitment and retention – noting that it is they who employ our teachers and not the Scottish Government.”