Politicians and a teaching union have called for more to be done to address a teacher crisis which has left many newly qualified teachers without a permanent job.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has lodged a Scottish Parliament motion for decisive action to create more teaching posts to end the prospect of high teacher unemployment.
The motion highlights a local Liberal Democrat petition which has already received 900 signatures.
It comes after Mr Rennie condemned the actions of the Scottish Government and Fife Council which has resulted in many newly qualified teachers in Fife being left without a job for August despite successfully passing through the interview process.
Though many new teachers were not formally offered a job, there was an expectation following the interview process in March that positions would be secured for the autumn.
The Scottish Lib Dem leader said he had received dozens of messages from local residents, including many teachers, raising concerns about the hiring process.
One teacher, Leeona Graham, said was only informed she had been unsuccessful in securing permanent position on the last day of term.
“Many teachers are struggling to get by”
Mr Rennie said: “For months, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Scottish Government to give teachers a fair deal.
“Many teachers are struggling to get by on casual zero-hour contracts, short-term placements and supply roles.”
There are thousands of qualified teachers stuck on short term, casual contracts and the problem is getting worse. I challenged the SNP Government, again, to fix this by making the funding they have allocated permanent. But the minister dodged the question – again! #teachers pic.twitter.com/MVugsFLDhN
— Willie Rennie (@willie_rennie) June 24, 2021
“Many others have now been told they don’t have a job at all next term. It is almost impossible for them to plan their lives or settle down.
“Instead of turning teaching from a lifelong vocation into a precarious lifestyle, the SNP-led Scottish Government and Fife Council need to sit up and listen to what our teachers and people that care deeply about our education system are telling them.”
“It’s just not good enough”
David Farmer, of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Fife branch, said the union has been raising this issue with Fife Council for a number of years.
He said: “Part of the issue is Fife doing their interviews for probationers pretty early.
“So then there is a wait of months until they are told. The knock on effect is that those people are then not easily able to get a job elsewhere.
“In our view, it’s just not good enough.”
The union rep said it was the view of the Kingdom’s EIS branch that a “realistic timescale” was needed to give teachers as much notice as possible as to whether they would have permanent job in the next year.
He added: “Fife EIS will continue to press the education service for a realistic timescale.
“We understand that not everyone interviewed will be successful. However, everyone should be given the opportunity to find employment elsewhere.
“The EIS nationally is campaigning for an education-led recovery. Such practices have no place in such a recovery irrespective of the bureaucratic excuses provided by Fife”
What has been the council’s response?
Carrie Lindsay, executive director of education and children’s services at Fife Council previously said part of the problem was falling school rolls, which reduces the number of teachers the council needs to employ.
She added: “In an effort to support staff currently employed in temporary contracts, as well as our 2020/21 probationers, we took the decision to advertise our primary posts internally only.”
“We anticipated a large number of candidates would be seeking employment and that our number of vacancies would be more limited than previous years.
“Supporting the probationer scheme is really important for us in Fife and probationers are considered, and funded, as part of our core staffing allocations in place across the authority.
“We have an important role in developing our teachers of the future and supporting newly qualified staff into appointments wherever we can.”
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has also previously said that the recruitment and deployment of staff are “a matter for local authorities.”
She also said that the Scottish Government was “working closely with COSLA regarding the employment of teachers for the next academic year.”