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Thread: Education Mess In Scotland After 10 Years of SNP Control

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    Education Mess In Scotland After 10 Years of SNP Control

    @Zellviren @southfieldhibby

    Apologies for the delay in responding to your posts yesterday but I wanted to give a proper reply and do so in front of a PC.

    I also thought that rather than continue this on the Catalonia Thread..

    Catalonia

    ...it would be better to give this a thread on its own. I am currently working in an environment dealing with the issues of public sector recruitment and its challenges and to be honest I am genuinely shocked at the utter incompetence of the current Scottish Government in its recruitment. Trust me, there more bad news coming this winter...

    Education IS in a mess in Scotland thanks to a recruitment shambles brought about by bad management and planning. They have absolutely taken their eyes of the day job. The SNP soundbites and spin about new teacher training don't even go as far as plugging the gap left by constantly retiring teachers or those simply leaving the profession because they have had enough. The numbers leaving is increasing. 40% want to get out. They have had enough. Another 350 recruited won't plug that. They've known for years when IN GOVERNMENT AND IN FULL CONTROL OF EDUCATION HERE IN SCOTLAND that these people were going to be retiring but it wasn't addressed. There are currently 700+ vacancies in Scottish schools. That's a lot of kids without a teacher - or more importantly - a specialist teacher in front of them.


    John Swinney said he was confident they'd all be filled by the end of this term. That only showed how lacking he is in understanding the issue. Where are these extra 700 people coming from? Other schools, that's where. Simply moving on the vacancy to another school, not taking it away. Yes, they've made a fuss about trying to let people with STEM degrees fast track or get access to teacher training. The latest copying Tory policy of doing the Teach First thing is a shambles. Who will be training these new "5 weeks in a college" teachers? The universities (who would normally take the strain for a year) or the teachers themselves? Its another additional burden on people who are already having to cover for the shortfall in teachers and supply teachers. Also, it devalues the profession if we are saying it only needs 5 weeks and off you go. Scotland's supply teacher situation is in crisis. Schools can't get supply teachers when someone is off ill. That situation has been exacerbated by the supply pay deal the Scottish Governmentt came up with a few years ago, prompting a lot of retired teachers who would sub now and then, keeping the system afloat saying "stuff it, I'm not going in for peanuts and abuse".

    It's the class teachers and increasingly Deputes and HTs who are now taking cover classes. This means even more over worked people in the system. Teachers, like other public sector workers, had a pay freeze for several years. Then, when they were allowed a 1% rise, every year this happened either their pension contributions went up by 1% or NI contributions went up. Teachers are taking home the same amount they did nearly a decade ago, unless they have been promoted. Promoted posts have been decimated across the sector by councils of every persuasion. Gone are subject heads in secondaries and in came something called faculty heads. Promoted teachers in these positions may have to manage subjects they have never taught. Most faculty heads have to i understand. The opportunity for progression for most class teachers is now limited and those that do make it up the ladder have bigger job remits than the subject leaders used to have. We have a massive problem recruiting HTs. Nobody wants to do the job any more because of the increased job size, added societal problems and it no longer being worth the pay. HTs end up in the papers as soon as wee Jimmy gets a detention their mammy feels they didn't deserve and backs their child over the judgement of the school. Politicians call HTs into council HQ if they have too many temporary exclusions to ask them why - creating a downward pressure on schools not to exclude.

    Special schools have been all but shut because of financial restraints on local authorities. Edinburgh has lost Wellington, Panmure and other provisions. It is left with Gorgie Mills and a couple of special schools for those with complex disabilities. That means most of the kids who would have gone to Wellington are now at Gorgie Mills and all the kids who would have been at Gorgie Mills and Panmure are now in mainstream schools. I don't need to spell out why that is going to be an issue. The Scottish Govt have recently written to retired teachers asking them what might tempt them out of retirement. I know a couple and they've laughed it out of hand. Contrary to popular opinion and promoted by an anti-teacher media, current teachers DON'T get a final salary pension and now are expected to retire at 67 because they don't get their full teaching pension until then. If they want to go before then the pension they get is a fraction of the Boomer Generation teachers the Scot Government are trying to persuade to come back.

    The SNP Government have had a succession of very poor Education Ministers. Angela Constance - ridiculed for not knowing the difference between "done" and "did" after one horrendous interview - being the worst of them. She was moved on PDQ. The one politician who does have some understanding of education is good Hibby Ian Gray, a former STEM teacher himself and someone who seems to be in touch with what is going on. Whether people rate him or like him or not, his opinion is rooted in a deep understanding of the education system in Scotland. That, of course, may not sit easily with some. It is little wonder, therefore, that Kezia Dugdale gave him that remit and he has pursued it vociferously in the knowledge he is far more secure on the subject than most in the parliament.

    No doubt, SNP supporters can counter with "Westminster Austerity" and there is no doubt money comes into this. But unless the SNP Government takes responsibility for our OWN education system and make it a priority by investing in it and making it an attractive career prospect for the mathematicians and scientists and every other subject under the sun, then we will continually lose people from the profession, learning and teaching will suffer and the whole country suffers eventually. Scottish teachers used to have the 8th best terms and conditions according to OECD figures, now they lag way behind. And that includes lagging behind English and Welsh teachers, who get responsibility payments for promoted work they do that our non-promoted teachers are expected to do for nothing. One last wee interesting point, before someone lobs it in, is that whilst schools are shut for 12 weeks a year, the teachers are not actually salaried for all of those weeks. They actually only get paid for the same number of holidays as most people, the remainder of the days are "school closure days" where the school is shut but no salary is paid. Another thing people don't realise about their terms and conditions.

    And read this letter from a Yes supporter and a SNP supporter.

    Scottish teacher writes furious open letter to Nicola Sturgeon - The Scotsman

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    Seems to me there's two routes to take to address the fact that less and less folk want to do the job - which is the crux of the matter, unless I'm mistaken.

    1) Make it so well paid that the salary in itself is compelling. High school teachers imo should be on £40k, minimum. This would take political will and prioritisation of funds.

    2) End the corrosive undermining of schools/teachers authority. No one is suggesting bringing back the tawse, but we have reached the opposite pole. Unfortunately, I think this is a Pandora's Box scenario.

    So 1) it is. However, good luck with that, and I mean with ANY stripe of government.


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    Seems to me there's two routes to take to address the fact that less and less folk want to do the job - which is the crux of the matter, unless I'm mistaken.

    1) Make it so well paid that the salary in itself is compelling. High school teachers imo should be on £40k, minimum. This would take political will and prioritisation of funds.

    2) End the corrosive undermining of schools/teachers authority. No one is suggesting bringing back the tawse, but we have reached the opposite pole. Unfortunately, I think this is a Pandora's Box scenario.

    So 1) it is. However, good luck with that, and I mean with ANY stripe of government.


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    Agreed.

    And although I feel the SNP Government should be getting huge grief over this and paying political consequences I'm not saying that with any other administration it would necessarily be better.

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    Education in Scotland, possibly the whole of the UK for all I know, has been $#@!ed for over 30 years.

    I remember my kids coming home , doing homework and their 3 'R''s simply didn't exist.
    I said 'your teacher is going to have a field day with her red pen pointing out the spelling and grammar mistakes', my lassie replied ' no, no dad, they don't correct that any more, they're more interested in the content'!
    As for the use of calculator in arithmetic/maths.......?
    That was 1988.

    As Aggie says, another problem is discipline.

    I have a niece who is a primary teacher. First day on the job with primary 6 pupils, she gets kicked and spat upon.
    She lasted a year at that particular school.

    No wonder people don't want the jobs.
    Ever play this game chief?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Agreed.

    And although I feel the SNP Government should be getting huge grief over this and paying political consequences I'm not saying that with any other administration it would necessarily be better.
    Anything else is just $#@!ing about.

    I mean, when there's arguments going on about whether there should be a 1% pay increase for high school teachers on, what, £24k? Well then for me the gig is $#@!ed anyway - the fact is, they should be on DOUBLE that if there was a) any reasonable concept of value left in the world, and b) a population willing to weigh in more to pay their kids' teachers the salary they deserve, or c) a government willing to take money off/get rid of the seemingly boundless public managerial sector or giant corporate interests.

    Unfortunately, there's neither. Certainly not in Scotland. And I don't see there ever being any of the above again.

    I'm 43 and I now feel like the best you can do is keep a "relative" perspective; i.e. just be happy I was born in a western country, cos even being "little people" here doesn't mean starving or dying, and in fact means you can do a lot of fun stuff. And as long as I also keep an active interest in my kids education and set a good example in general, she'll be okay.

    Whether there'll be state schools as we know it in 25 years time? Who can say. Who'll be working there at this rate?


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Seems to me there's two routes to take to address the fact that less and less folk want to do the job - which is the crux of the matter, unless I'm mistaken.

    1) Make it so well paid that the salary in itself is compelling. High school teachers imo should be on £40k, minimum. This would take political will and prioritisation of funds.

    2) End the corrosive undermining of schools/teachers authority. No one is suggesting bringing back the tawse, but we have reached the opposite pole. Unfortunately, I think this is a Pandora's Box scenario.

    So 1) it is. However, good luck with that, and I mean with ANY stripe of government.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    there's a potential third option but not sure how palatable it'd be - relax the criteria someone has to meet to be a teacher and lessen their workload - that might make it more attractive. i'm not sure the answer is always pay although that's not to excuse poor pay and conditions. what does a qualified teacher get at the moment, how does that compare to other jobs in the civil service with similar qualification/experience requirements, would 40K suddenly see many more applications to teaching college, are our trained teachers working abroad or in private sector?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    @Zellviren @southfieldhibbyApologies for the delay in responding to your posts yesterday but I wanted to give a proper reply and do so in front of a PC.I also thought that rather than continue this on the Catalonia Thread..Catalonia...it would be better to give this a thread on its own. I am currently working in an environment dealing with the issues of public sector recruitment and its challenges and to be honest I am genuinely shocked at the utter incompetence of the current Scottish Government in its recruitment. Trust me, there more bad news coming this winter...Education IS in a mess in Scotland thanks to a recruitment shambles brought about by bad management and planning. They have absolutely taken their eyes of the day job. The SNP soundbites and spin about new teacher training don't even go as far as plugging the gap left by constantly retiring teachers or those simply leaving the profession because they have had enough. The numbers leaving is increasing. 40% want to get out. They have had enough. Another 350 recruited won't plug that. They've known for years when IN GOVERNMENT AND IN FULL CONTROL OF EDUCATION HERE IN SCOTLAND that these people were going to be retiring but it wasn't addressed. There are currently 700+ vacancies in Scottish schools. That's a lot of kids without a teacher - or more importantly - a specialist teacher in front of them. John Swinney said he was confident they'd all be filled by the end of this term. That only showed how lacking he is in understanding the issue. Where are these extra 700 people coming from? Other schools, that's where. Simply moving on the vacancy to another school, not taking it away. Yes, they've made a fuss about trying to let people with STEM degrees fast track or get access to teacher training. The latest copying Tory policy of doing the Teach First thing is a shambles. Who will be training these new "5 weeks in a college" teachers? The universities (who would normally take the strain for a year) or the teachers themselves? Its another additional burden on people who are already having to cover for the shortfall in teachers and supply teachers. Also, it devalues the profession if we are saying it only needs 5 weeks and off you go. Scotland's supply teacher situation is in crisis. Schools can't get supply teachers when someone is off ill. That situation has been exacerbated by the supply pay deal the Scottish Governmentt came up with a few years ago, prompting a lot of retired teachers who would sub now and then, keeping the system afloat saying "stuff it, I'm not going in for peanuts and abuse". It's the class teachers and increasingly Deputes and HTs who are now taking cover classes. This means even more over worked people in the system. Teachers, like other public sector workers, had a pay freeze for several years. Then, when they were allowed a 1% rise, every year this happened either their pension contributions went up by 1% or NI contributions went up. Teachers are taking home the same amount they did nearly a decade ago, unless they have been promoted. Promoted posts have been decimated across the sector by councils of every persuasion. Gone are subject heads in secondaries and in came something called faculty heads. Promoted teachers in these positions may have to manage subjects they have never taught. Most faculty heads have to i understand. The opportunity for progression for most class teachers is now limited and those that do make it up the ladder have bigger job remits than the subject leaders used to have. We have a massive problem recruiting HTs. Nobody wants to do the job any more because of the increased job size, added societal problems and it no longer being worth the pay. HTs end up in the papers as soon as wee Jimmy gets a detention their mammy feels they didn't deserve and backs their child over the judgement of the school. Politicians call HTs into council HQ if they have too many temporary exclusions to ask them why - creating a downward pressure on schools not to exclude. Special schools have been all but shut because of financial restraints on local authorities. Edinburgh has lost Wellington, Panmure and other provisions. It is left with Gorgie Mills and a couple of special schools for those with complex disabilities. That means most of the kids who would have gone to Wellington are now at Gorgie Mills and all the kids who would have been at Gorgie Mills and Panmure are now in mainstream schools. I don't need to spell out why that is going to be an issue. The Scottish Govt have recently written to retired teachers asking them what might tempt them out of retirement. I know a couple and they've laughed it out of hand. Contrary to popular opinion and promoted by an anti-teacher media, current teachers DON'T get a final salary pension and now are expected to retire at 67 because they don't get their full teaching pension until then. If they want to go before then the pension they get is a fraction of the Boomer Generation teachers the Scot Government are trying to persuade to come back. The SNP Government have had a succession of very poor Education Ministers. Angela Constance - ridiculed for not knowing the difference between "done" and "did" after one horrendous interview - being the worst of them. She was moved on PDQ. The one politician who does have some understanding of education is good Hibby Ian Gray, a former STEM teacher himself and someone who seems to be in touch with what is going on. Whether people rate him or like him or not, his opinion is rooted in a deep understanding of the education system in Scotland. That, of course, may not sit easily with some. It is little wonder, therefore, that Kezia Dugdale gave him that remit and he has pursued it vociferously in the knowledge he is far more secure on the subject than most in the parliament. No doubt, SNP supporters can counter with "Westminster Austerity" and there is no doubt money comes into this. But unless the SNP Government takes responsibility for our OWN education system and make it a priority by investing in it and making it an attractive career prospect for the mathematicians and scientists and every other subject under the sun, then we will continually lose people from the profession, learning and teaching will suffer and the whole country suffers eventually. Scottish teachers used to have the 8th best terms and conditions according to OECD figures, now they lag way behind. And that includes lagging behind English and Welsh teachers, who get responsibility payments for promoted work they do that our non-promoted teachers are expected to do for nothing. One last wee interesting point, before someone lobs it in, is that whilst schools are shut for 12 weeks a year, the teachers are not actually salaried for all of those weeks. They actually only get paid for the same number of holidays as most people, the remainder of the days are "school closure days" where the school is shut but no salary is paid. Another thing people don't realise about their terms and conditions.And read this letter from a Yes supporter and a SNP supporter. Scottish teacher writes furious open letter to Nicola Sturgeon - The Scotsman
    Can you (or someone else) explain that in a bit more detail? Is their annual salary (eg £24k) pro ratad or do they get £24k over the year?

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    Money is at thE root of the problem. It's the same problem in England and It's be difficult for any Scottish Government to significantly change given they only have a budget which is based on the UKs low tax economy. Want a decent education system then you should also be demanding an increase in taxes.

    I think the elitist private school system is in part to blame too. My local primary is 3rd in the Edinburgh league tables yet the high school just a few blocks away is bottom half. I'm pretty sure it's partly due to the number of kids who go from state primary to private secondary. Admittedly I don't have much to back that up but I reckon if we did away with private schools there'd be a massive improvement in education standards as a result.
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    That was a really meaty post, @Smurf, thanks for sharing it. I’ll try to avoid individual quotes so that we don’t get bogged down too horribly with individual snippets. If I miss something you specifically feel is important, let me know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Education IS in a mess in Scotland thanks to a recruitment shambles brought about by bad management and planning. They have absolutely taken their eyes of the day job. The SNP soundbites and spin about new teacher training don't even go as far as plugging the gap left by constantly retiring teachers or those simply leaving the profession because they have had enough. The numbers leaving is increasing. 40% want to get out. They have had enough. Another 350 recruited won't plug that. They've known for years when IN GOVERNMENT AND IN FULL CONTROL OF EDUCATION HERE IN SCOTLAND that these people were going to be retiring but it wasn't addressed. There are currently 700+ vacancies in Scottish schools. That's a lot of kids without a teacher - or more importantly - a specialist teacher in front of them.
    First of all, I’m not sure that there’s a recruitment problem in Scotland going from the official numbers. In fact, I think it may well be the opposite. Using Adzuna’s numbers (not authoritative, but probably good enough) and comparing them to the Scottish governments official figures, it breaks down very differently to how you’ve presented it.

    First of all, there are 48,746 full-time teachers in Scottish schools – I’m deliberately leaving out ELC and visiting numbers because that’ll arguably confuse the issue. According to Holyrood, this means that there is a ratio of one teacher to 17 primary school pupils, rounded up, and one teacher to 12 secondary school pupils, rounded down (I’ve rounded because I’ve no idea how you teach 0.6% of a child). We understand that these numbers aren’t going to be true in every school, but it’s an extremely good average to start with.

    I’ve no idea where the “40%” who want to leave comes from, and the number of vacancies isn’t changing much year on year for retirements or people just leaving the profession. Recruitment is slowing, which is unfortunate, but not anywhere close to what you’re describing as a calamity. Funnily enough, your citation of 700 vacancies in Scottish schools is also wrong – it’s actually listed as an average of 1688 over the last year! And while you claim that another 350 won’t make a difference, that’s 350 additional teachers they’re trying to recruit on top of the current target. To make the number simpler to digest, the Scottish government are trying to add another 20% onto what they’re already trying to recruit.

    Now, clearly, it looks bleak to have 1688 vacancies across Scottish schools – particularly if you dramatically underestimated it.

    But context is absolutely vital here.

    There are around 2,400 primary and secondary schools across Scotland, which means less than one vacancy per school, as an average. Again, as with the teacher to pupil ratio, there will be schools that struggle more than others, and certain vacancies could easily be key ones, but arguing that less than a single vacancy per school is “a mess” is… Well, it’s an extraordinary assessment that’s completely at odds with reality. There’s an average of 20 teachers to each school, so each one could only reasonably be asked to do another 5% work at most were it shared out.

    Now, clearly, we can argue about the number of teachers that are needed rather than those that are applied for; but census numbers help us out here. According to the 2011 numbers, there were 893,000 people between five and nineteen years of age. If we divide that number, an overestimate of pupil numbers, by the number of teachers in schools (48,746), the ratio is around one to eighteen. The Scottish government numbers are, therefore, about right.

    So if we ignore what the SNP, Labour or Conservatives say about schools, and use figures sourced from elsewhere, we can only conclude one thing:

    There are no recruitment problems for Scottish schools.

    In fact, I’d go further and say that most organisations would absolutely LOVE to be in this position.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Yes, they've made a fuss about trying to let people with STEM degrees fast track or get access to teacher training. The latest copying Tory policy of doing the Teach First thing is a shambles. Who will be training these new "5 weeks in a college" teachers? The universities (who would normally take the strain for a year) or the teachers themselves? Its another additional burden on people who are already having to cover for the shortfall in teachers and supply teachers. Also, it devalues the profession if we are saying it only needs 5 weeks and off you go. Scotland's supply teacher situation is in crisis. Schools can't get supply teachers when someone is off ill. That situation has been exacerbated by the supply pay deal the Scottish Governmentt came up with a few years ago, prompting a lot of retired teachers who would sub now and then, keeping the system afloat saying "stuff it, I'm not going in for peanuts and abuse".
    Okay, there are a few things going on here and I can only really speculate on them.

    STEM subjects might be necessary and harder to recruit for, but it’s odd to complain that there aren’t enough and then subsequently complain when the government tries to do something about it. I agree that the prestige of teaching is diminished if we say that “five weeks in a college” is enough, but that’s not what I understand the policy to be and I can make an allowance for the problem.

    Do you want a quicker group of teachers to arrive to plug the gap, who are less capable, or do you want fully capable teachers that’ll take longer to get into the system?

    What’s the on-job-training schedule for these “undertrained” teachers?

    As for our supply teachers being in crisis, I really can’t comment intelligently on that. It’s notoriously difficult to use the official figures in order to draw a conclusion, so all we can really do is speculate. I want to avoid muddying the issue with that, so I’ll avoid it for now. Word-of-mouth isn’t a form of evidence, sadly, so I’ll take your anecdote with the same pinch of salt you should take my comments with.

    We don’t really have the necessary data to hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Then, when they were allowed a 1% rise, every year this happened either their pension contributions went up by 1% or NI contributions went up. Teachers are taking home the same amount they did nearly a decade ago, unless they have been promoted.
    This is not unique to teachers, and is common across all public sector workers in both Scotland, and the wider UK.

    Try being in the military, when your pension and NI contributions went up accompanied by hikes in accommodation and incidental charges. Soldiers being shot at for a living got a 1% pay rise that equated to a drop in pay due to changes in their allowances. But let’s talk teachers:

    The average salary for a teacher in Scotland is 29,450, which is a full 11% better than teachers across Britain as a whole and almost 2% better than the average Scottish salary. There has, however, been an unfortunate wage deprecation; in and around 2% year on year, for the last several. But before we get too sad about that, it’s worth remembering that public sector workers are, on average, shipping wages due to the rising cost of living. In the UK, for example, teacher salaries have effectively deprecated to the tune of almost 6%. The average salary in Britain is around 27,000 these days, I think, so full-time teachers are at least competitive.

    Clearly, there’s an argument that they should be paid more. It’s something I’d certainly sign up to, because I believe they should. But they’re not being uniquely unserved, not even in the individual context of public servants.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    The one politician who does have some understanding of education is good Hibby Ian Gray, a former STEM teacher himself and someone who seems to be in touch with what is going on.
    Are you kidding?

    He hasn’t got a clue what he’s on about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    No doubt, SNP supporters can counter with "Westminster Austerity" and there is no doubt money comes into this. But unless the SNP Government takes responsibility for our OWN education system and make it a priority by investing in it and making it an attractive career prospect for the mathematicians and scientists and every other subject under the sun, then we will continually lose people from the profession, learning and teaching will suffer and the whole country suffers eventually.
    Arguing that austerity comes into this, but then dismissing it as an excuse, is a horrible way of staging the debate.

    In the latest GERS figures (probably wrong, but they’re all we have), the Scottish government spent 8.2 billion on education and training in the last year. This is higher than the equivalent spend in the UK, which can only mean that Scotland views it as a bigger priority. Paying every teacher the average salary I mentioned earlier costs about 1.4 billion in wages alone, and Barnett allocations don’t cover it all – the Scottish government has to come up with other funding means. This shortfall is exasperated by the fact that the Scottish government pays for university tuition, that the UK government doesn’t, and the Scottish government needs to use its discretionary funds to finance other things such as the NHS that Scotland still has.

    Let’s not talk about the crumbling PFI schools that Labour saddled the country with, only to see strong winds huff, puff and blow them down.

    Wrapping up the first bit of my response, here are the tentative conclusions:

    - There appears no shortage of teachers across Scotland, according to official figures.
    - There appear to be no unique problems with teacher recruitment across Scotland.
    - Scottish teachers are paid more on average than teachers in the rest of Great Britain.
    - Scottish teachers are paid more than the national average for the rest of Great Britain.
    - The Scottish government spends comparatively more on education than Barnett allocates.

    So, in short, most of the specific complaints you’ve listed are largely disproven by the figures. Neither SNP nor Labour press releases are being terribly honest, but Scotland is clearly doing a better job of protecting its teachers, and its public servants in general, than the government in Westminster.

    What this means, therefore, is that there must be another problem with Scottish education that would cause a crash in morale.

    So what is it?

    From what I’ve read, it appears to me that the biggest three issues are fundamental problems with organisation (perhaps centring around management and career aspiration), expectations placed upon teachers (that they perhaps didn’t have before), and the quality of the curriculum they’re delivering (accompanied by difficult assessment vehicles).

    If that’s true, and I tend to think that it is, then all the whinging about spending and recruitment in the world isn’t going to fix it. If the Curriculum for Excellence is the problem, then that’s what the Scottish government need to reform or replace, and that’s what the opposition need to suggest amendments and reforms to.
    Last edited by Zellviren; 19-09-17 at 15:50.

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    Great post, @Zellviren! Over to you, @Smurf..!


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    Great post, @Zellviren! Over to you, @Smurf..!
    It is a very good post and I agree with most of it but having just scanned it one issue i'd take issue with is dismissing one teacher per school as being marginal. in a primary school for example this is a big deal and amounts to much more than 5% extra work (which in itself is mentioned as a minor matter, which it is not). Even in secondary schools, if I think back to my days, we basically had two teachers in each subject, one of them is off and the other effectively doubled their workload. Thats just not sustainable and will lead to 'cover' being provided by non-subject specialists.

    That all said, I have two kids in primary and they have a cracking wee school with great teachers and a magic atmosphere, so purely anecdotally, it doesn't feel crisis driven to me (except in regards that the council tried to mess up the janitorial roles recently before backing down after a strike ballot).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth View Post
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    It is a very good post and I agree with most of it but having just scanned it one issue i'd take issue with is dismissing one teacher per school as being marginal. in a primary school for example this is a big deal and amounts to much more than 5% extra work (which in itself is mentioned as a minor matter, which it is not). Even in secondary schools, if I think back to my days, we basically had two teachers in each subject, one of them is off and the other effectively doubled their workload. Thats just not sustainable and will lead to 'cover' being provided by non-subject specialists.
    It's a fair shout, and I didn't mean to marginalise the issue. Also, don't forget that I've said absolutely nothing about specialist subjects, their demands, learning support, resilience (teachers being off) and that the average I listed is exactly that - an average. One school might be well-staffed, while another suffers two or three vacancies. It also says nothing about system-imposed time on teachers that's hopelessly inefficient or unnecessary.

    All I'm saying is that the Scottish government has made a pretty good fist of things if they're running at better than 5% vacancies, given the challenges I mentioned.

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    One other thing perhaps worth remembering - I can't provide links, as I'm pretty sure this came up during a discussion on private schools a few years ago (was it you, @SKII?).

    Anyway, the point was that apparently all the data suggests that by far the biggest difference made/influence on attainment is made in the home. I.e. Kids could be at the humptiest school in scotland, but if they have ability and their parents are interested, involved, and set a good example and boundaries, those kids will achieve regardless. And vice versa, although private schoolings resources and staffing can mitigate for negative home lives.

    I remember being quite struck by this. My own daughter, for instance, will likely go to a sh*t secondary, but as long as I stay actively involved, that's not necessarily an unavoidable "sentence" for her.

    And in a larger sense, I think a lot of parents could do with "asking not what their school can do for them, but ask what they can do for their school".


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    One other thing perhaps worth remembering - I can't provide links, as I'm pretty sure this came up during a discussion on private schools a few years ago (was it you, @SKII?).

    Anyway, the point was that apparently all the data suggests that by far the biggest difference made/influence on attainment is made in the home. I.e. Kids could be at the humptiest school in scotland, but if they have ability and their parents are interested, involved, and set a good example and boundaries, those kids will achieve regardless. And vice versa, although private schoolings resources and staffing can mitigate for negative home lives.

    I remember being quite struck by this. My own daughter, for instance, will likely go to a sh*t secondary, but as long as I stay actively involved, that's not necessarily an unavoidable "sentence" for her.

    And in a larger sense, I think a lot of parents could do with "asking not what their school can do for them, but ask what they can do for their school".


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    I believe that was me. I even sent you a link to the research. Iirc it was between 8 and 14 percent of achievement differentials comes from schools, the rest socio economic environment. So schools certainly matter, but not enough to place all educational responsibilities on over stretched teachers

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    Anyway, the point was that apparently all the data suggests that by far the biggest difference made/influence on attainment is made in the home. I.e. Kids could be at the humptiest school in scotland, but if they have ability and their parents are interested, involved, and set a good example and boundaries, those kids will achieve regardless. And vice versa, although private schoolings resources and staffing can mitigate for negative home lives.
    There's actually quite a lot of research on this, which isn't important to link, because it all says the same; better home lives mean better results.

    The snag I have with this is that a lot of children come from homes that just can't get involved. Mum and dad get their pupils home and, after a hard day's work, can effectively get the tea on, sort out baths and clothes for tomorrow, and then prepare for the next day at work. They're often also not especially capable when it comes to helping with homework and the like, and I'm deliberately not counting those from messed up backgrounds to avoid casting too many dispersions. Suffice it to say, if a child is born into a jobless home, with a $#@! school, and no jobs within the local economy... Most have a life of crime to look forward to, and not much else.

    I've often wondered if schools could help with this and, if they could, whether or not they should. It's a conundrum. I'm not sure (as @Gareth mentions) it's within the remit of the school to act as a secondary family unit, but the alternative is children from less affluent backgrounds being left behind. This is, arguably, a strong argument for specialised teaching; but as aggie hints, parents that don't or can't give a monkey's aren't going to encourage anything.

    Tackling this type of issue, the attainment gap, is probably the most convoluted and challenging function of government schooling. And in particular areas of Scotland, such as the residential areas of Glasgow, the problem is indescribably acute. My wife worked with some of the most underprivileged people you can imagine... It was an eye opener and no mistake the days she showed me around.

    In many ways, the only solution is economic reform that directly combats poverty; good luck managing that in post-Brexit, Conservative Britain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    @Zellviren @southfieldhibby

    Special schools have been all but shut because of financial restraints on local authorities. Edinburgh has lost Wellington, Panmure and other provisions. It is left with Gorgie Mills and a couple of special schools for those with complex disabilities. That means most of the kids who would have gone to Wellington are now at Gorgie Mills and all the kids who would have been at Gorgie Mills and Panmure are now in mainstream schools. I don't need to spell out why that is going to be an issue.
    I used to do a bit of work with kids from Wellington and Panmure, in the years before it closed must have only been about 15 kids at the Welly with poor attendance from the ones who had to travel out by taxi from Edinburgh to Penicuik, don't think it was really working and would be better if they could access extra support in their local school, in reality most would just drop off from school altogether, probably the same at Panmure where attendance was really low. Staff there used to go knocking on kids doors trying to get them into school

    Sad thing was a few of the Panmure kids I met didn't really have any obvious behavioural problems had just stopped attending mainstream school due to being bullied.
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    Is it simply Teachers nowadays spend less time teaching than they do completing paperwork, meetings over working time agreements and managing behaviour? I don't think any teacher signs up for the latter?

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    Any chance of a reply to my question @Smurf?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wannabehibee View Post
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    Any chance of a reply to my question @Smurf?
    Sorry don't have the time just now but will as soon as I can!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wannabehibee View Post
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    Any chance of a reply to my question @Smurf?
    The average I referenced is an annual salary over the year, bud.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wannabehibee View Post
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    Can you (or someone else) explain that in a bit more detail? Is their annual salary (eg £24k) pro ratad or do they get £24k over the year?
    The salary is split into 12 equal amounts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    The average I referenced is an annual salary over the year, bud.
    Cheers, i missed that when reading your massive but interesting post.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    The salary is split into 12 equal amounts.
    Thanks. So if a job is advertised at 24k they'll get 2k gross a month, is that right? If it is, I'm not sure what your point is about teachers not getting paid for holidays?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wannabehibee View Post
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    Cheers, i missed that when reading your massive but interesting post.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks. So if a job is advertised at 24k they'll get 2k gross a month, is that right? If it is, I'm not sure what your point is about teachers not getting paid for holidays?
    Teachers used to have the option of being paid 12 monthly payments or 10 equal payments when they were 'working' 220/240 days rings a bell.

    That was upto the mid 1970s at least and I'm not sure if they still have the option but it could be where they don't get paid for holidays myth came from.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Teachers used to have the option of being paid 12 monthly payments or 10 equal payments when they were 'working' 220/240 days rings a bell.

    That was upto the mid 1970s at least and I'm not sure if they still have the option but it could be where they don't get paid for holidays myth came from.
    Mid 70s is a long time ago now. None of the above applies and probably hasn't for decades.

    Unfortunately I am not allowed to comment on a lot of this for fear of breach of contract but Smurf is not wrong on wages. Teachers get paid for a percentage of the days a school is shut for pupil holidays. The remainder are school closure days and are not paid leave. I get less paid leave a year than my other half who is in a fairly standard job I suppose the inference is that when Joe Public look at teacher pay and conditions they reference the mythological 12 weeks paid leave. The school kids holidays are a combination of a normal number of paid leave days and a number of unpaid school closure days for the teacher.

    On other matters I will see what I can answer but it will be limited. We are always warned to only let our unions speak for us. The teacher who wrote the open letter was a brave boy.
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    Good OP @Smurf and sore reading for your average Indy person. (Also, I feel that our NHS has slipped , from my experience working in it - but thats another thread). I watched a program called educating yorkshire. There was almost no authority in this high school. If our schools are in that state, we are $#@!ed! One of my sons is in 3rd year at a very modern high school outside edinburgh. Some of the stories he's told me are ridic, including no teachers in class ! FFS. I also wonder where the $#@! to my taxes go to, it costs me a fortune! He comes home almost weekly wi some cost the schools wants.

    Education should be Scotlands beacon and the topic should be Apolitical its that important.

    Hope they fix it and soon!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    I remember being quite struck by this. My own daughter, for instance, will likely go to a sh*t secondary, but as long as I stay actively involved, that's not necessarily an unavoidable "sentence" for her.
    Out of interest (and I think I know the school you refer to based on you saying where you live before on here) what defines it as sh*t? Always interesting to hear what the perceived issues there are with regards to this
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    There's actually quite a lot of research on this, which isn't important to link, because it all says the same; better home lives mean better results.

    The snag I have with this is that a lot of children come from homes that just can't get involved. Mum and dad get their pupils home and, after a hard day's work, can effectively get the tea on, sort out baths and clothes for tomorrow, and then prepare for the next day at work. They're often also not especially capable when it comes to helping with homework and the like, and I'm deliberately not counting those from messed up backgrounds to avoid casting too many dispersions. Suffice it to say, if a child is born into a jobless home, with a $#@! school, and no jobs within the local economy... Most have a life of crime to look forward to, and not much else.

    I've often wondered if schools could help with this and, if they could, whether or not they should. It's a conundrum. I'm not sure (as @Gareth mentions) it's within the remit of the school to act as a secondary family unit, but the alternative is children from less affluent backgrounds being left behind. This is, arguably, a strong argument for specialised teaching; but as aggie hints, parents that don't or can't give a monkey's aren't going to encourage anything.

    Tackling this type of issue, the attainment gap, is probably the most convoluted and challenging function of government schooling. And in particular areas of Scotland, such as the residential areas of Glasgow, the problem is indescribably acute. My wife worked with some of the most underprivileged people you can imagine... It was an eye opener and no mistake the days she showed me around.

    In many ways, the only solution is economic reform that directly combats poverty; good luck managing that in post-Brexit, Conservative Britain.

    Are you aware of the widespread implementation of Nurture provisions? Increasingly funded by PEF?
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    Blimey.
    Interesting thread with good stuff from well informed Bouncers.

    Can someone reference kafflik schools and maybe how they get all the saints days off as holidays too.

    Pretty sure that'll flush EGB out.

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    Education Mess In Scotland After 10 Years of SNP Control

    Quote Originally Posted by SKII View Post
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    Out of interest (and I think I know the school you refer to based on you saying where you live before on here) what defines it as sh*t? Always interesting to hear what the perceived issues there are with regards to this
    She'll go to Drummond as it stands, and I'm basing that assessment on hearsay, to be fair - I'm told it's one of the "50 lowest performing schools" (based on university widening access info). Haven't done my own research as yet, as C is still only in P5.

    Happy to be corrected!


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    She'll go to Drummond as it stands, and I'm basing that assessment on hearsay, to be fair - I'm told it's one of the "50 lowest performing schools" (based on university widening access info). Haven't done my own research as yet, as C is still only in P5.

    Happy to be corrected!


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    I guess what I'm getting at is how we define what makes a school "sh*t".

    Is it the quality of learning and teaching? The clientele? The fabric of the building?

    FWIW that school is, in theory, geographically well placed in a site on the edge of the affluent New Town with what should, in theory, be a mixed demographic intake with a strong top end. Except it doesn't. The people in the New Town have been more likely to be In the 25% of the Edinburgh population who send their kids to private school for secondary education. It's resulted in a demographic skewed to particular cohorts and has a pretty high EAL contingent who undoubtedly also skew academic results. It's a very unusual one when you think about similar schools sited in or near affluent areas.

    I have to say, having been in a wide range of schools, across 3
    different local authorities that the most creative and impressive teaching most often happens in tougher schools. It's almost a prerequisite. Which is why it's sometimes tricky understanding the terms "sh*t school" and what it really means. Affluent pupils do better than non-affluent ones (generally) and have the resources, parental involvement etc to do well no matter what. Sometimes "good schools" are anything but....but it never matters when everything is measured against exam results.

    It's going to be interesting watching what happens as CEC try to redraw catchment areas to address the school population explosion. A new Castlebrae won't be able to be half full. The hallowed Meadows Triangle schools need the pressure relieved, too. Edinburgh is unique when it comes to schooling patterns and choices and it's going to be a hot potato over the course of the next decade. We can only watch with interest...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SKII View Post
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    I guess what I'm getting at is how we define what makes a school "sh*t".

    Is it the quality of learning and teaching? The clientele? The fabric of the building?

    FWIW that school is, in theory, geographically well placed in a site on the edge of the affluent New Town with what should, in theory, be a mixed demographic intake with a strong top end. Except it doesn't. The people in the New Town have been more likely to be In the 25% of the Edinburgh population who send their kids to private school for secondary education. It's resulted in a demographic skewed to particular cohorts and has a pretty high EAL contingent who undoubtedly also skew academic results. It's a very unusual one when you think about similar schools sited in or near affluent areas.

    I have to say, having been in a wide range of schools, across 3
    different local authorities that the most creative and impressive teaching most often happens in tougher schools. It's almost a prerequisite. Which is why it's sometimes tricky understanding the terms "sh*t school" and what it really means. Affluent pupils do better than non-affluent ones (generally) and have the resources, parental involvement etc to do well no matter what. Sometimes "good schools" are anything but....but it never matters when everything is measured against exam results.

    It's going to be interesting watching what happens as CEC try to redraw catchment areas to address the school population explosion. A new Castlebrae won't be able to be half full. The hallowed Meadows Triangle schools need the pressure relieved, too. Edinburgh is unique when it comes to schooling patterns and choices and it's going to be a hot potato over the course of the next decade. We can only watch with interest...
    What's your personal opinion of Drummond? (In fact, are you allowed to express it?)

    And "the meadows triangle"?! I'm guessing Gillespies, Boroughmuir, and ... St Tam's?


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    Quote Originally Posted by aggie View Post
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    What's your personal opinion of Drummond? (In fact, are you allowed to express it?)

    And "the meadows triangle"?! I'm guessing Gillespies, Boroughmuir, and ... St Tam's?


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    The former wouldnt be appropriate on here. The latter, yes.

    PS you're in the catchment for one of those 3 too
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    I went to Drummond and my mates nephew just left and did really well. The problem when I was there was both that closure was forever hanging over its head and more affluent parents opted for the new leithy, or porty in some cases. So Drummond probably dealt with a harder group if students. But my mates son loved it. Some amazing teachers and if your home environment is conducive there's no reason you can't do 'well' however defined.

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    Does the Evening News still publish a league table of the 'best performing' schools? It used to I think be based on a ratio of number of higher grades attained to 4th year roll numbers. My old school (Gracemount) would often be 2nd bottom to the WHEC in this, but I never felt it was an entirely fair method of judging a school's relative performance?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    That was a really meaty post, @Smurf, thanks for sharing it. I’ll try to avoid individual quotes so that we don’t get bogged down too horribly with individual snippets. If I miss something you specifically feel is important, let me know.


    First of all, I’m not sure that there’s a recruitment problem in Scotland going from the official numbers. In fact, I think it may well be the opposite. Using Adzuna’s numbers (not authoritative, but probably good enough) and comparing them to the Scottish governments official figures, it breaks down very differently to how you’ve presented it.

    First of all, there are 48,746 full-time teachers in Scottish schools – I’m deliberately leaving out ELC and visiting numbers because that’ll arguably confuse the issue. According to Holyrood, this means that there is a ratio of one teacher to 17 primary school pupils, rounded up, and one teacher to 12 secondary school pupils, rounded down (I’ve rounded because I’ve no idea how you teach 0.6% of a child). We understand that these numbers aren’t going to be true in every school, but it’s an extremely good average to start with.

    I’ve no idea where the “40%” who want to leave comes from, and the number of vacancies isn’t changing much year on year for retirements or people just leaving the profession. Recruitment is slowing, which is unfortunate, but not anywhere close to what you’re describing as a calamity. Funnily enough, your citation of 700 vacancies in Scottish schools is also wrong – it’s actually listed as an average of 1688 over the last year! And while you claim that another 350 won’t make a difference, that’s 350 additional teachers they’re trying to recruit on top of the current target. To make the number simpler to digest, the Scottish government are trying to add another 20% onto what they’re already trying to recruit.

    Now, clearly, it looks bleak to have 1688 vacancies across Scottish schools – particularly if you dramatically underestimated it.

    But context is absolutely vital here.

    There are around 2,400 primary and secondary schools across Scotland, which means less than one vacancy per school, as an average. Again, as with the teacher to pupil ratio, there will be schools that struggle more than others, and certain vacancies could easily be key ones, but arguing that less than a single vacancy per school is “a mess” is… Well, it’s an extraordinary assessment that’s completely at odds with reality. There’s an average of 20 teachers to each school, so each one could only reasonably be asked to do another 5% work at most were it shared out.

    Now, clearly, we can argue about the number of teachers that are needed rather than those that are applied for; but census numbers help us out here. According to the 2011 numbers, there were 893,000 people between five and nineteen years of age. If we divide that number, an overestimate of pupil numbers, by the number of teachers in schools (48,746), the ratio is around one to eighteen. The Scottish government numbers are, therefore, about right.

    So if we ignore what the SNP, Labour or Conservatives say about schools, and use figures sourced from elsewhere, we can only conclude one thing:

    There are no recruitment problems for Scottish schools.

    In fact, I’d go further and say that most organisations would absolutely LOVE to be in this position.


    Okay, there are a few things going on here and I can only really speculate on them.

    STEM subjects might be necessary and harder to recruit for, but it’s odd to complain that there aren’t enough and then subsequently complain when the government tries to do something about it. I agree that the prestige of teaching is diminished if we say that “five weeks in a college” is enough, but that’s not what I understand the policy to be and I can make an allowance for the problem.

    Do you want a quicker group of teachers to arrive to plug the gap, who are less capable, or do you want fully capable teachers that’ll take longer to get into the system?

    What’s the on-job-training schedule for these “undertrained” teachers?

    As for our supply teachers being in crisis, I really can’t comment intelligently on that. It’s notoriously difficult to use the official figures in order to draw a conclusion, so all we can really do is speculate. I want to avoid muddying the issue with that, so I’ll avoid it for now. Word-of-mouth isn’t a form of evidence, sadly, so I’ll take your anecdote with the same pinch of salt you should take my comments with.

    We don’t really have the necessary data to hand.


    This is not unique to teachers, and is common across all public sector workers in both Scotland, and the wider UK.

    Try being in the military, when your pension and NI contributions went up accompanied by hikes in accommodation and incidental charges. Soldiers being shot at for a living got a 1% pay rise that equated to a drop in pay due to changes in their allowances. But let’s talk teachers:

    The average salary for a teacher in Scotland is 29,450, which is a full 11% better than teachers across Britain as a whole and almost 2% better than the average Scottish salary. There has, however, been an unfortunate wage deprecation; in and around 2% year on year, for the last several. But before we get too sad about that, it’s worth remembering that public sector workers are, on average, shipping wages due to the rising cost of living. In the UK, for example, teacher salaries have effectively deprecated to the tune of almost 6%. The average salary in Britain is around 27,000 these days, I think, so full-time teachers are at least competitive.

    Clearly, there’s an argument that they should be paid more. It’s something I’d certainly sign up to, because I believe they should. But they’re not being uniquely unserved, not even in the individual context of public servants.


    Are you kidding?

    He hasn’t got a clue what he’s on about.


    Arguing that austerity comes into this, but then dismissing it as an excuse, is a horrible way of staging the debate.

    In the latest GERS figures (probably wrong, but they’re all we have), the Scottish government spent 8.2 billion on education and training in the last year. This is higher than the equivalent spend in the UK, which can only mean that Scotland views it as a bigger priority. Paying every teacher the average salary I mentioned earlier costs about 1.4 billion in wages alone, and Barnett allocations don’t cover it all – the Scottish government has to come up with other funding means. This shortfall is exasperated by the fact that the Scottish government pays for university tuition, that the UK government doesn’t, and the Scottish government needs to use its discretionary funds to finance other things such as the NHS that Scotland still has.

    Let’s not talk about the crumbling PFI schools that Labour saddled the country with, only to see strong winds huff, puff and blow them down.

    Wrapping up the first bit of my response, here are the tentative conclusions:

    - There appears no shortage of teachers across Scotland, according to official figures.
    - There appear to be no unique problems with teacher recruitment across Scotland.
    - Scottish teachers are paid more on average than teachers in the rest of Great Britain.
    - Scottish teachers are paid more than the national average for the rest of Great Britain.
    - The Scottish government spends comparatively more on education than Barnett allocates.

    So, in short, most of the specific complaints you’ve listed are largely disproven by the figures. Neither SNP nor Labour press releases are being terribly honest, but Scotland is clearly doing a better job of protecting its teachers, and its public servants in general, than the government in Westminster.

    What this means, therefore, is that there must be another problem with Scottish education that would cause a crash in morale.

    So what is it?

    From what I’ve read, it appears to me that the biggest three issues are fundamental problems with organisation (perhaps centring around management and career aspiration), expectations placed upon teachers (that they perhaps didn’t have before), and the quality of the curriculum they’re delivering (accompanied by difficult assessment vehicles).

    If that’s true, and I tend to think that it is, then all the whinging about spending and recruitment in the world isn’t going to fix it. If the Curriculum for Excellence is the problem, then that’s what the Scottish government need to reform or replace, and that’s what the opposition need to suggest amendments and reforms to.


    With regards to the average teacher number per head back of a fag packet calculation, it's a guesstimate that doesn't allow for a number of nuances in the way education works. It fails to take into account the fact that teachers have about 5 periods of planning time built into the working week where they are not in front of pupils. It doesn't allow for secondary schools having senior classes with high pupil to teacher ratios. Not got 30 S6 pupils in Advanced Higher classes. It doesn't take into account the meetings with parents or other professionals that take place in school time and need teacher cover or training activities that take staff out of school. It doesn't take into account senior teachers and Guidance teachers who I understand don't have full teacher timetables for fairly obvious reasons and although you mention sick days I'd reckon the chances of a secondary school only ever having one teacher out of school on any day is very unlikely.

    I am hearing of recently retired teachers who say that most teachers are on maximum timetables due to the recruitment and or budgetary restraint issues. Expecting them to do "an extra 5%" is all well and good but I'm not sure how that translates into practice? There would surely be logistical issues in that a cover lesson is a fixed time and not a neat 5% of anything. You might dismiss it as anecdote but I trust the accounts of the retired teachers I am hearing about who have given their thoughts. They say there's no spare flesh. And with supply teachers so sparse there's an increasing number of senior classes without a teacher because they legally don't need an adult in front of them or Deputies or Heads are increasingly doing cover too. Which means they can't do their own jobs.

    Where the CfE comes into all of this God only knows. The teachers, not the SQA, have had to devise all of the new courses and much of the materials - it's well documented - with no significant additional time given to them to do that. So we can only assume it has been done out of school hours. It's a regular undercurrent in items on Scottish education. I wish we could hear more from those at the chalkface but respect that those who are still working in the sector are bound by their employers to adhere to guidelines on speaking on matters in public.

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    Good thread, nice one Kenny. There's certainly no hiding place for the government with education and their record. I wouldn't go as far to say it's a disaster, but it certainly needs improved.

    This is an area (along with NHS/general health care) in which politicians and politics in general do the population no favours. Is there a place for a long standing cross party group to take on the task of remodeling/redirecting education? It would take some serious lip biting and word eating from those at Holyrood, but I think it could do them all good if normal folk could see them working together.

    But then it would bring to the boil religious schools and private schools, and I guess they're probably the 3rd rail of Scottish politics?

    As for redrawing the catchment areas, given the grief the council got when it simply had to redraw the lines in Portobello, I'll be surprised if they A) take on the entire city and B) get it right. It didn't affect me, but I live about as central in Porty as you probably can get, now and as a school kid. I wouldn't be in the catchment for Towerbank, but kids a mile or so along the road in Joppa would be. The idea of some parents sending their little ones to Craigentinny or even Royal High was met with revolt. And when Brunstane was an option for some of the high earners in Joppa, the council redid the redraw. Pathetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southfieldhibby View Post
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    Good thread, nice one Kenny. There's certainly no hiding place for the government with education and their record. I wouldn't go as far to say it's a disaster, but it certainly needs improved.

    This is an area (along with NHS/general health care) in which politicians and politics in general do the population no favours. Is there a place for a long standing cross party group to take on the task of remodeling/redirecting education? It would take some serious lip biting and word eating from those at Holyrood, but I think it could do them all good if normal folk could see them working together.

    But then it would bring to the boil religious schools and private schools, and I guess they're probably the 3rd rail of Scottish politics?

    As for redrawing the catchment areas, given the grief the council got when it simply had to redraw the lines in Portobello, I'll be surprised if they A) take on the entire city and B) get it right. It didn't affect me, but I live about as central in Porty as you probably can get, now and as a school kid. I wouldn't be in the catchment for Towerbank, but kids a mile or so along the road in Joppa would be. The idea of some parents sending their little ones to Craigentinny or even Royal High was met with revolt. And when Brunstane was an option for some of the high earners in Joppa, the council redid the redraw. Pathetic.
    What if catchment areas were redrawn everywhere so an existing school in Edinburgh could become a Gaelic school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    What if catchment areas were redrawn everywhere so an existing school in Edinburgh could become a Gaelic school?
    Already one in Bonnington Road, got pals who send their kids there.

    also think Gillespies teach it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by southfieldhibby View Post
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    Already one in Bonnington Road, got pals who send their kids there.

    also think Gillespies teach it.
    We don't have an exclusively Edinburgh Secondary for it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    We don't have an exclusively Edinburgh Secondary for it...
    No, we don't. I'm not sure there's the demand tbh. It should be taught as a subject in school though, But that's far to much for this (or previous) Holyrood govts to take on and implement with success.

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    Tollcross is a Gaelic unit school feeding into JGHS
    Hibs are standing on the brink of history...

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    I'm still none the wiser with this unpaid holiday malarkey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth View Post
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    I went to Drummond and my mates nephew just left and did really well. The problem when I was there was both that closure was forever hanging over its head and more affluent parents opted for the new leithy, or porty in some cases. So Drummond probably dealt with a harder group if students. But my mates son loved it. Some amazing teachers and if your home environment is conducive there's no reason you can't do 'well' however defined.
    Good to hear, G.


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    How much could we pay teachers ( and NHS) if we didn't spend millions every year on PFI?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wannabehibee View Post
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    I'm still none the wiser with this unpaid holiday malarkey.
    I'm guessing from what's been said that they get roughly the same leave as everyone else. What they do get paid is distributed equally over 12 months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    With regards to the average teacher number per head back of a fag packet calculation, it's a guesstimate that doesn't allow for a number of nuances in the way education works.
    Okay, let’s just nip this in the bud before it sticks:

    They’re the Scottish government’s figures.

    They’re not “off the back of a fag packet”, they’re as accurate as any of us have because they’re the official figures provided by law, and for freedom of information. I absolutely agree that they don’t capture the nuances of how education works, nor should they; that’s not why I provided them. In the previous thread, you argued that recruitment was a mess. In my previous post, I demonstrated that, on average, there is less than one vacant teacher per school and that overall vacancies for Scottish schools are around 3%.

    As such, I’d like you to accept that recruitment hasn’t been “a mess”. It’s in line with both sector, and general, expectation and I’m making no mention of the additional recruitment drives that the Scottish government have put cash behind. I’ve deliberately stuck solely to full-time teachers in both primary and secondary schools because they form the backbone of the workforce, and looking at ELC and special teachers would be hugely misleading (not because it’s unimportant, but because it needs its own topic; FWIW, support teacher numbers look alarmingly low at first glance).

    Now:

    If we want to discuss time taken for lesson plans, teacher training or parental meetings then that’s a different discussion and possibly futile. Again, not because it’s unimportant, but because I think it’ll differ drastically from school to school and no overall picture could really be formed. It’s accepted that this time needs to be factored in, and my only addendum would be that simply paying teachers for any additional hours doesn’t cut the mustard. It needs an organisational solution that takes the pressure and stress out of those activities, because I suspect that’s where the rubber of retention meets the road. In my personal experience with young soldiers, paying them more or giving them nicer accommodation wasn’t their complaint when they took the six clicks to freedom. The complaint they relayed to me was, by and large, that they were deployed and had no quality of life for 14 months out of every 24.

    I’m comfortable accepting that teachers should be paid more (in my opinion, they should), but not as a means of telling them to suck it up with regard to organisational stresses or misery.

    I also note that you mentioned senior, guidance or registration teachers but, from my school days, these tasks weren’t onerous enough to demand full-time. At Queensferry High (where I went), they were all also full-time teachers that took pupils. I can think of no reason why they shouldn’t.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    I am hearing of recently retired teachers who say that most teachers are on maximum timetables due to the recruitment and or budgetary restraint issues.
    See, this is where I get a bit sad.

    Teachers often aren’t in a position to say whether a problem is caused via bad recruitment (which we’ve established is NOT true), or budgetary constraints. They’ve no business worrying about either, because that’s the remit of the head teacher, school board, council, or a mixture of those. All teachers really need to be bothered about is whether or not they have the time to teach properly, the quality of the material, that they have a decent work-life balance, and that there is a chance for career progression within a reasonable time-frame. If an individual school teacher is complaining about the government’s recruitment strategy, then they’re being needlessly political about it and have probably been motivated to do so by the usual suspects; most recently Rape-Clause Ruth and Dippy Dugdale, egged on by the most biased, dishonest and disreputable print media any of us have ever had the misfortune to endure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Where the CfE comes into all of this God only knows. The teachers, not the SQA, have had to devise all of the new courses and much of the materials - it's well documented - with no significant additional time given to them to do that. So we can only assume it has been done out of school hours. It's a regular undercurrent in items on Scottish education. I wish we could hear more from those at the chalkface but respect that those who are still working in the sector are bound by their employers to adhere to guidelines on speaking on matters in public.
    To be honest, my own suspicion is that the Curriculum for Excellence is to blame here. Both the organisational constraints, as well as how pupils are to be assessed, are probably at the root of the entire issue. Again, as a professional trainer, I can tell you that the absolute worst way of teaching someone to do anything is to endlessly test them. You stop teaching them how to do tasks or learn information, and instead teach them how to pass tests – and you do it under pressure, because there are targets to meet.

    Educational experts despise exams because of how restricting they are, but governments love them because they’re easily quantifiable.

    And if teachers themselves are being asked to come up with curricula in their own time, without assistance… That’s a recipe for disaster. Being able to deliver good lessons does not necessarily mean you know how to create said lessons, or how to gauge the quality in them. Education design is very different to education delivery.

    Quote Originally Posted by southfieldhibby View Post
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    This is an area (along with NHS/general health care) in which politicians and politics in general do the population no favours. Is there a place for a long standing cross party group to take on the task of remodeling/redirecting education? It would take some serious lip biting and word eating from those at Holyrood, but I think it could do them all good if normal folk could see them working together.
    I agree with this absolutely.

    It’s unfortunate that Scotland’s broken politics don’t allow the parliament to work the way it should work, but that’s where we are. A cross party administration to fix education is impossible, because the opposition parties simply won’t allow it to happen – and their media would have a field day should the SNP be so magnanimous as to extend an olive branch.

    All the while, it’s Scotland that suffers so that everyone can scream about how poor a job the Scottish government is doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chester Perry View Post
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    How much could we pay teachers ( and NHS) if we didn't spend millions every year on PFI?
    We've not to mention that.

    It was the Labour-led administrations that saddled the country with that embarrassment, but it's somehow spun to be the SNP's fault. It's best not to bring it up, really. A bit like the trams that the minority SNP administration didn't want, but ran wildly over cost. Or the Queensferry Crossing that wasn't necessary until, you know, it was necessary.

    Labour put Scotland back decades, and now want to elect a leader who just cynically gave his children a cool five million to prove himself a socialist.

    Davidson and Sturgeon will be rubbing their hands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    I also note that you mentioned senior, guidance or registration teachers but, from my school days, these tasks weren’t onerous enough to demand full-time. At Queensferry High (where I went), they were all also full-time teachers that took pupils. I can think of no reason why they shouldn’t.
    .
    Genuinely out of interest,what are the tasks you think they do?
    Hibs are standing on the brink of history...

  49. #49
    Radge Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    Okay, let’s just nip this in the bud before it sticks:

    They’re the Scottish government’s figures.

    They’re not “off the back of a fag packet”, they’re as accurate as any of us have because they’re the official figures provided by law, and for freedom of information. I absolutely agree that they don’t capture the nuances of how education works, nor should they; that’s not why I provided them. In the previous thread, you argued that recruitment was a mess. In my previous post, I demonstrated that, on average, there is less than one vacant teacher per school and that overall vacancies for Scottish schools are around 3%.

    As such, I’d like you to accept that recruitment hasn’t been “a mess”. It’s in line with both sector, and general, expectation and I’m making no mention of the additional recruitment drives that the Scottish government have put cash behind. I’ve deliberately stuck solely to full-time teachers in both primary and secondary schools because they form the backbone of the workforce, and looking at ELC and special teachers would be hugely misleading (not because it’s unimportant, but because it needs its own topic; FWIW, support teacher numbers look alarmingly low at first glance).

    Now:

    If we want to discuss time taken for lesson plans, teacher training or parental meetings then that’s a different discussion and possibly futile. Again, not because it’s unimportant, but because I think it’ll differ drastically from school to school and no overall picture could really be formed. It’s accepted that this time needs to be factored in, and my only addendum would be that simply paying teachers for any additional hours doesn’t cut the mustard. It needs an organisational solution that takes the pressure and stress out of those activities, because I suspect that’s where the rubber of retention meets the road. In my personal experience with young soldiers, paying them more or giving them nicer accommodation wasn’t their complaint when they took the six clicks to freedom. The complaint they relayed to me was, by and large, that they were deployed and had no quality of life for 14 months out of every 24.

    I’m comfortable accepting that teachers should be paid more (in my opinion, they should), but not as a means of telling them to suck it up with regard to organisational stresses or misery.

    I also note that you mentioned senior, guidance or registration teachers but, from my school days, these tasks weren’t onerous enough to demand full-time. At Queensferry High (where I went), they were all also full-time teachers that took pupils. I can think of no reason why they shouldn’t.


    See, this is where I get a bit sad.

    Teachers often aren’t in a position to say whether a problem is caused via bad recruitment (which we’ve established is NOT true), or budgetary constraints. They’ve no business worrying about either, because that’s the remit of the head teacher, school board, council, or a mixture of those. All teachers really need to be bothered about is whether or not they have the time to teach properly, the quality of the material, that they have a decent work-life balance, and that there is a chance for career progression within a reasonable time-frame. If an individual school teacher is complaining about the government’s recruitment strategy, then they’re being needlessly political about it and have probably been motivated to do so by the usual suspects; most recently Rape-Clause Ruth and Dippy Dugdale, egged on by the most biased, dishonest and disreputable print media any of us have ever had the misfortune to endure.


    To be honest, my own suspicion is that the Curriculum for Excellence is to blame here. Both the organisational constraints, as well as how pupils are to be assessed, are probably at the root of the entire issue. Again, as a professional trainer, I can tell you that the absolute worst way of teaching someone to do anything is to endlessly test them. You stop teaching them how to do tasks or learn information, and instead teach them how to pass tests – and you do it under pressure, because there are targets to meet.

    Educational experts despise exams because of how restricting they are, but governments love them because they’re easily quantifiable.

    And if teachers themselves are being asked to come up with curricula in their own time, without assistance… That’s a recipe for disaster. Being able to deliver good lessons does not necessarily mean you know how to create said lessons, or how to gauge the quality in them. Education design is very different to education delivery.


    I agree with this absolutely.

    It’s unfortunate that Scotland’s broken politics don’t allow the parliament to work the way it should work, but that’s where we are. A cross party administration to fix education is impossible, because the opposition parties simply won’t allow it to happen – and their media would have a field day should the SNP be so magnanimous as to extend an olive branch.

    All the while, it’s Scotland that suffers so that everyone can scream about how poor a job the Scottish government is doing.


    We've not to mention that.

    It was the Labour-led administrations that saddled the country with that embarrassment, but it's somehow spun to be the SNP's fault. It's best not to bring it up, really. A bit like the trams that the minority SNP administration didn't want, but ran wildly over cost. Or the Queensferry Crossing that wasn't necessary until, you know, it was necessary.

    Labour put Scotland back decades, and now want to elect a leader who just cynically gave his children a cool five million to prove himself a socialist.

    Davidson and Sturgeon will be rubbing their hands.
    So the brave school teacher who sent in his open letter to The Scotsman last week has completely got it wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    So the brave school teacher who sent in his open letter to The Scotsman last week has completely got it wrong?
    As opposed to the 48,745 who didn't write?
    Space to let

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