The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on all parties to back their commitment to give new teachers longer contracts, after revealing almost 400 posts were re-advertised across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in just one year.
Figures released under freedom of information legislation show 170 teaching posts in Aberdeen and 209 teaching posts in Aberdeenshire were re-advertised in 2019-20.
We exclusively revealed last week the party’s manifesto pledge to offer a new, optional, three-year package for probationer teachers.
They believe this will help local authorities recruit hard-to-fill roles, particularly across rural Scotland.
The FOI data also showed teaching posts were re-advertised multiple times, with many often receiving no applications.At Oldmachar Academy in Aberdeen, the teacher of design and technology post was advertised seven times.
Rosemary Bruce, the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for the north-east, warned the new figures show councils struggling to fill hundreds of positions and “leaving schools and pupils to deal with patchwork provision”.
However, SNP candidate for the north-east region Fatima Joji said her party has made clear that there is “no reason” for local authorities to be offering only temporary contracts and that, if re-elected, the SNP will work to help teachers secure longer-term contracts.
Ms Bruce, who is also vice-chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s education committee, said: “Nicola Sturgeon told people to judge her on her record on education. The report card is in and it doesn’t make for good reading.
“Teachers, pupils and parents deserve better than an SNP government distracted by the arguments of the past. We must put recovery first and help pupils bounce back.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats offer a chance to change. Our new, optional, three year-packages for probationer teachers will enable more people to make their posting long-term.”
Struggle to fill posts
The new contracts would include the option of extending from one to three years for probationers.
Lib Dems also say they would expand remote teacher training opportunities, if they were in power at the Scottish Parliament.
Regions including the Highlands and Aberdeenshire have struggled to fill all posts and keep people in the communities once the contract is over.
Party leader Willie Rennie said there has been a “mushrooming” of short-term, casual contracts, with around one in 10 teachers employed on this basis.
He added: “We want to offer 3,500 more permanent positions across Scotland to make sure that we can cut class sizes.
“It’s better to have teachers who are in stable positions because it means they’re going to stay in the profession and having experienced teachers is obviously a good thing.
“It’s not good for the pupils if the teachers are constantly chopping and changing, you don’t get continuity.”
Lib Dems ‘don’t have leg to stand on’
SNP candidate for North East Region Fatima Joji said the SNP government had employed 3,000 more teachers over the lifetime of this parliament and ensured 1,400 were recruited specifically through the pandemic.
She added: “John Swinney has made clear that there is no reason for local authorities to be offering only temporary contracts and that if re-elected the SNP will work to help teachers secure longer-term contracts.
“When it comes to ‘putting recovery first’, the Liberal Democrats don’t have a leg to stand on. Along with the Tories, they were the architects of the austerity policies that were already crippling people even before the pandemic hit.
“It is partly their fault people have been hit so hit hard by the financial impact of coronavirus.”
Aberdeen Labour councillor Tauqeer Malik, who is part of the city council’s ruling administration, said the manifesto delivered by Anas Sarwar has put “education at the top of the agenda”.
He added: “The importance of having teachers in our schools will be met by the opportunities Labour has agreed for teachers as well as probationary teachers.”