Better pupil-teacher ratio under SNP means Scotland has SIX THOUSAND EXTRA teachers!

BBC Scotland has more than 800 words today under the heading: Scottish school subjects could be axed due to cuts, union warns but not one word on the pupil-teacher ratio, that most important piece of information in assessing how well schools are resourced in Scotland.

The piece opens with:

Some school subjects will have to scrapped as a result of the Scottish government’s budget, a teaching union chief has said.

The general secretary of School Leaders Scotland claimed the number of pupils per class would also rise, with teacher vacancies to remain unfilled.

We’ve been here before with police officer, firefighter, health visitor, nurse, doctor and even bed numbers, with always the same answer. After 15 years of SNP administration, Scotland’s public health services are far better staffed than those in the other UK nations.


In 2019 in the run-up to the General Election, BBC Scotland told us:

The number of teachers in Scotland is at a ten-year high. The number topped 52 000. That’s up nearly 300 on the last year’s total 

In 2018 it was 13.8 pupils for every teacher. That was an improvement on 13.9 in 2017. In primary schools the ratio was 16.1 and in secondary schools, 12.3.

As with A&E statistics, we didn’t get any idea of how comparatively good or bad this was but, in England, the ratios were far worse at 20.9 pupils per teacher in primary schools and 16.3 in secondary schools, 33.9%  and 24.5% worse.

So, in Secondary Schools, a better ratio by 24.5%.

There are over 300 000 pupils in Scottish Secondary schools. They have with the 12.3/1 ratio, more than 24 000 teachers but, with a 16.3/1 ratio like England, would have 24.5% fewer, only 18 000!


8 thoughts on “Better pupil-teacher ratio under SNP means Scotland has SIX THOUSAND EXTRA teachers!

  1. Sorry to appear Scrooge like at this time of year, while I applaud the above, there is an issue about the employment of young/ newly qualified teachers which appears to be getting worse, but going under the radar.
    One example illustrates this. For the current academic year, Glasgow CC (and there were not alone – just an example) advertised not one single permanent position for newly qualified teachers. They were all on temporary contracts, unpaid during the summer holiday, and while the second year was pretty much a gimme (though not a certainty) that would be the end of it (need to stay out of Employment Tribunals, so get rid before the qualifying period is up).
    This annoys me for several reasons. First I should fess up that a member of my own family is caught up in this. I wont go into the details here, but their situation is even more farcical than for most, given their area of specialty.
    Secondly, because I recall a case from about 30 years ago, where the union representing the classroom assistants took the Councils to court over their contracts, which specified no payment during hols (so not just the summer break but Christmas and Easter as well). They were also treated as temporary employees, as the Councils argued they had no continuity, with employment ending at each and every holiday. When this got to a Tribunal, it kicked the Council’s case straight out of the window, and not just on the basis of fairness. The Tribunal’s view was that as the Councils expected their classroom assistants to come back at the start of each term that their employment was continuous and that the Councils were merely manipulating the law to have their cake (many fewer legal obligations for the assistants) and eat it too (expect them to return).
    Why not use this for new teachers now. Well the problem was that many of the assistants had been doing the job for many years, so the first issue was whether there was continuity. If there was, the Tribunal could hear the case. If not, they shouldn’t but continuity being the issue, the Tribunal – despite Council objections – took the case on. For young teachers with less than 2 years service, there isn’t.


    1. One other thing. This is emblematic of how local authorities treat teachers. Another example is the creation of “Faculty Heads” where subjects are grouped into “faculties”, and there is a single head of Faculty. So for instance History, Modern Studies and Geography might be grouped as a “Social Science Faculty”, which at face value might seem ok, till you realise that if the Faculty Head is, for instance a History teacher, that person will be responsible for the teaching of Geography as well.
      Probationer teachers are baked into the teaching personnel in a school. Whether they have the support a probationer in their first year of teaching a class is less significant than if the school has the required number of staff. Their attraction is that the SG pay their salary, so free teachers as far as the Councils are concerned.
      The problem, as I see it, is that while resourcing might be better than in England. the Councils are squeezing teaching resources as hard as they can. Faculty heads. No stability/ certainty / continuity for young teachers who end up on a two year treadmill of temporary contracts which have no basis in fact as the contract is only temporary because the young teacher will be dismissed and have to be replaced by someone else on the same terms.
      For the record non-renewal of a fixed term contract is dismissal in law. The question would be whether the reason for dismissal was fair in law, but the Councils avoid this by preventing them from ever getting in a qualifying period.


      1. I was a secondary head teacher for many years. I retired 14 years ago – not early retirement; I had done my 40 years – and so I am not conversant with the current situation in totality. The concerns you are expressing about probationer and recently fully qualified teachers were concerns before I retired. I can think of a number of probationer and young teachers whom I happily would have had on permanent contracts, but because councils had to look at the totality of the staffing across all their schools, we sometimes had to accept a teacher on a full-time contract who was ‘surplus’ in another school to fill a vacancy which had been being filled by a demonstrably competent probationer or recently fully registered teacher. The issues were complex and entailed not just employment law but also local agreements with teacher unions. Sadly, neither I nor other Head Teachers found a good long term solution to this.

        At the root of the problem is the iniquity of ‘austerity’ and the cutting of public expenditure as part of the drive for ‘privatisation’. We still actually have a local authority controlled education system in Scotland as opposed to the effectively privatised one in England.

        With regard to ‘faculty’ heads, that is a separate argument and ought to be kept separate from the young teachers and permanent employment. The history of promoted posts in secondary schools has its roots back in the 1960s when their were teacher shortages and many authorities created a number of ‘promoted posts’ as a way of attracting staff. Until around 2000, all promoted teachers had the same basic pay as teachers, plus a ‘responsibility element’. It was the ‘responsibility element’ which was misused to poach staff and led to a proliferation of promoted posts which led to most schools having ‘more chiefs than indians’. One small school of which I was Head had a staffing entitlement of 24 full time equivalent teachers, but was also, by the gimcrack logic entitled to 25 promoted posts!

        The problem had arisen because the basic teacher salary level was too low and the ‘responsibility element’ was a backdoor way of enhancing it. The solution, as McCrone tried to do, was boost the basic teacher grade pay substantially. It did to some extent, but teachers and unions also wanted to retain the large proportion of promoted posts for ‘career progression’ purposes. It is a long story…..


  2. OT – I was amused to note the BBC’s UK webpage featuring “Jeremy Clarkson says he is ‘horrified’ over Meghan column” at 21 minutes old as compared to HMS James Cook’s Scotland webpage “Sturgeon: Clarkson’s Megan column is “deeply misogynist” ” a minute earlier at the time of writing….
    Notably the above story didn’t appear on the Scotland/Politics page at all, presumably too many might agree with the FM’s observations as opposed to her husband’s SNP loan blatantly juxtaposed with Natalie McGarry’s embezzlement appeal despite neither having to do with Scotland’s politics.
    Made a cuppa, smoked a rollie, then checked ca ten minutes later, exactly the same.

    I’ve never had any time for Clarkson, or come to that the Buck-House farce, but the circus act at Pacific Quay never fails to amuse.


  3. There are more selections of subjects in schools than there has ever been. A much wider selection of subjects. Especially in technology,

    The (unionists) councils were given extra funds from the Scottish Gov to keep class sizes down. .The councils employed more class room assistants, with less training. Instead of employing more teachers to keep class sizes down. The (unionist) councils work to legitimise classroom ratios of 30 statutory limit. Instead of keeping class sizes down by employing more teachers. The councils spend the funding on unqualified classroom assistants. The is more training needed in additional learning. Diversity training, universities (unionist) do not give enough module trading for additional needs. The (unionists) councils have shut additional needs schools down. Instead of providing more.

    Scotland has the best educational systems in the world. It would be even better if Independent. More funds could be spent on Education. Instead of Trident, HS2, Hickley Point etc. Wasted public money. The ConDems cut education funding £6Billion a year from 2015 to 2020. The Scottish Gov has to mitigate the cuts.

    The best school in the world Dunoon.


  4. The Scottish Gov has expanded nursery learning and qualification. Higher paid for qualifications. Further nursery training at degree level course. Extra curriculum learning. More expertise, The Scottish agov has ring fenced educational funding. Council cannot cut the funding and spend it on anything else.

    Probationary teachers gave to go with the flow until they are settled. Same in any other profession. Some have to relocate with help, until a post becomes available in their preferred location. Same in any profession.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.