Teacher numbers: what new Scottish data tells us

Overall teacher numbers have increased this year, but secondary teachers have more students on average
15th December 2020, 11:58am
Emma Seith

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Teacher numbers: what new Scottish data tells us

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/teacher-numbers-what-new-scottish-data-tells-us
Teacher Numbers: What New Scottish Data Tells Us

This year, the number of teachers working in Scottish schools increased by 1,224 between 2019 and 2020 - the biggest recorded annual increase since 1975, according to Scottish government statistics published today.

The number of pupils per teacher is at 13.3, down from 13.7 in 2014.

Teacher numbers, however, did not increase across the board, with five councils reporting a fall in teacher numbers between this year and last of up to 2 per cent.


Background: Scottish Parliament backs call for extra 2,000 teachers

Coronavirus:  How many extra school staff has your council employed?

Secondary schools: 'Secondary staff are fearful of the workload ahead'


In secondary schools, although teacher numbers did increase overall, this rise failed to keep pace with rising rolls, and the pupil-teacher ratio hit its highest level since 2014, going from 12.2 in 2014 to 12.5 this year.

The pupil-teacher ratio in special schools also hit its highest level since 2014, going from 3.5 in 2014 to 3.8 in 2020.

According to the figures, the number of pupils with a recorded additional support need (ASN) has now reached 226,838 pupils - or 32.3 per cent of all pupils. This is an increase of 1.4 percentage points on 2019, when 215,897 pupils had an ASN recorded - or 30.9 per cent of all pupils.

In primary, the pupil-teacher ratio fell from 16.8 in 2014 to 15.4 in 2020.

Average class sizes in primary schools also fell to their smallest level since 2012, down to 23.1 from 23.5 in 2019.

The data published today by the Scottish government relates to the annual census of pupils and teachers, which took place on 16 September 2020.

The report states: "The numbers of teachers increased across all sectors except early learning and childcare. The decrease in primary pupils combined with the increase in primary teachers meant there were fewer pupils per teacher and consequently the primary PTR [pupil-teacher ratio] decreased to 15.4. This is the lowest ever PTR for primary schools.

"In secondary schools, the number of pupils grew at a faster rate than the number of teachers, meaning there were more pupils per teacher, so the secondary PTR increased to 12.5. This is the highest PTR in secondary schools since 2004, when the PTR was 12.7."

The number of teachers working in early learning and childcare fell from 798 in 2019 to 729 this year, a 9 per cent drop.

Education secretary John Swinney said he welcomed the "significant" rise in teacher numbers.

He added: "The Covid-19 pandemic led us to take action to help pupils catch up with learning, having been out of school, and we have invested an additional £80 million to recruit more than 1,400 additional teachers and 200 support staff this year - all of whom are now in place.

"A drop in class sizes is also welcome news as it is a crucial element in our ambition to close the attainment gap between the most and least deprived.

"As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, our focus will steadfastly remain on delivering equity and excellence."

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