Edward Mountain MSP today criticised the SNP Government’s lack of action in helping a group of sixty recently qualified teachers secure permanent contracts within the Highland Council.
The Highlands and Islands MSP first raised the issue with the Cabinet Secretary for Education in an email on 15 July 2020 but has not yet received a response.
Therefore, Edward Mountain raised the issue again with the Minister for Public Finance and Migration during today’s Virtual Scottish Parliament Questions on Finance.
Edward Mountain asked: “what additional funding the finance secretary has made available to allow schools to return from 11 August?”
The Minister replied: “The Scottish Government has committed up to a further £135 million over the next two years to support the re-opening of schools. We are investing £80 million in providing approximately 1,400 additional teachers and 200 extra support staff to tackle any loss of learning. Up to £50 million in costs associated with the re-opening of schools, £3 million in youth work and £2 million to the family learning element of the promise. This is in addition to investing £25 million to support digital inclusion and a further £12.6 million for local authorities to continue the provision of free school meals throughout the summer holidays this year.
Edward Mountain MSP then said: “I have been contacted by a group representing over 60 recently qualified teachers, who have all completed their training and probationary year within the Highlands, and who are currently on zero hour contracts with the Highland Council. They could play a pivotal role in delivering the safe education that our youngsters need.”
“Can the Minister give the Highlands an undertaking that some of the funding that he has just mentioned will be available to make these teachers have the ability to have permanent contracts within our region, to allow them to play the pivotal role in teaching our children that they want to play?”
The Minister replied: “These decisions concerning recruitment in the specifics for which he details would be decisions for the local authorities to undertake. However, if Mr Mountain would like to write probably in the first instance to the Cabinet Secretary for Education, and certainly copy that correspondence to me, we can look at the detail and see if there is any assistance that could potentially be provided. But I think in the first instance, this is a matter for the local authority.”
Following Virtual Questions Edward Mountain MSP said:
“The Minister might be happy to list £135 million in funding that is available, but it is clear to me that he is unwilling to ensure that the Highland Council use their share of this money to offer permanent contracts to sixty recently qualified teachers."
"I’m also disappointed that the Cabinet Secretary for Education has not taken on this issue sooner, which I first raised with him on 15 July 2020. Schools returned this week but sixty teachers are still without permanent contracts."
"Due to their lack of action this SNP Government is denying this group of teachers a job in the Highlands.”