Michael Cook, Cosla spokesman for human resources, said: “No-one would pretend … that educational outcomes are purely dependent on teacher numbers.”
It started with a cough. Then a sneeze. Then a throbbing pain in the throat and the head and the familiar signs of flu returned to the staffroom.
At risk from the forthcoming annual bout of teacher (and pupil) winter-related illness are not just the usual victims: colleagues who have to cover classes, business managers kept awake trying to fit less staff in to more empty lessons or the pupils enjoying their ‘curriculum for excellence’ from a textbook or a worksheet or a DVD.
Try telling the PTs spending day after day setting cover for classes where there is no teacher and no supply available due to ‘vacancy management’ and the pay cut for supply staff that there will be no impact on outcomes. Or, for that matter, on their health, their workload or their ‘professional development’.
This year, the pressure will be on to see if those who commissioned, signed and supported the CoSLA/EIS sell-out-agreement will be correct in their assertion that it was a success.
As schools have seen staffing numbers reduced, vacancies unfilled and supply unavailable the chances are that this winter will be the most challenging yet in our schools. An increasingly demoralised profession now coming up against the consequences of a deal struck to maintain teacher numbers at a slower rate of decline – for this year only.
On the horizon local councils are currently setting budgets that may well see overall teacher numbers kept but support services slashed, departmental and school budgets butchered and that’s just the good news, as council leaders seek to minimise the bad news this side of the local council elections. Shorn of the pressure to get re-elected what will the real post-election budgets reveal?
If (or possibly when) Scotland’s teachers say ‘enough is enough’ and start to work to their actual contract, Councillor Cook may well be proved correct because it is often the case that so many teachers go beyond their duties to ensure the best for their pupils. When CoSLA only get what they actually pay for, perhaps the good Councillor will join us in the real world.