Almost a third of Scottish councils have failed to recruit any of the additional school support staff promised by the government to help to ensure a smooth return to education following the coronavirus lockdown.
The Scottish government says councils have recruited more than its original estimate of 1,600 extra teaching and support staff.
However, official figures now reveal how that total is broken down across Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
Coronavirus: No school closures for Level 4 councils
When it comes to teachers, recruitment appears to be roughly in line with local authority size, with Glasgow, Scotland’s largest education authority, recruiting the highest number of extra teaching staff – an additional 158 teachers – followed by North Lanarkshire, which recruited an extra 127, and South Lanarkshire, which recruited an extra 103.
The smallest number of teachers recruited – excluding the island authorities – was 17, in both Moray and Clackmannanshire, two of the smallest mainland authorities.
However, in over half of Scottish councils, special schools received no additional teaching staff to help them cope with the return to school during the pandemic.
Coronavirus: No extra support staff in some council areas
The figures on the recruitment of support staff, meanwhile, show big disparities in the numbers recruited in different council areas.
A total of nine councils reported recruiting no additional support staff in their primary, secondary or special schools, including some of the biggest authorities in Scotland like Fife and North Lanarkshire.
However, Aberdeenshire reported recruiting almost 74 additional members of support staff – almost a third of the total number recruited across the country, and far more than any other council.
Falkirk recruited the second highest number of extra support staff, taking on 36 additional staff, putting it ahead of Glasgow, which recruited 23 additional support staff, but has roughly three times the pupil population.
The Scottish Greens’ education spokesman, Ross Greer – who recently had his call to recruit an extra 2,000 teachers backed by the Scottish Parliament – said it was “simply staggering” that some of the biggest councils in the country appeared not to have recruited a single additional member of support staff.
He said: “When schools returned in August promises were made that additional support staff would be recruited. The government accepted that more staff were needed to cope with the challenges of delivering education during a pandemic. These figures show that, outside of a few areas such as Aberdeenshire, that simply hasn’t happened.
“Parliament passed the Scottish Greens’ safe schools proposals last month, despite the SNP’s lack of support. We have made clear that we expect to see more staff recruited and protection for the most vulnerable. These figures show that simply has not happened yet, something which the government must urgently explain and address.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman said the government had provided £80 million for councils to recruit additional teachers and support staff and this has resulted in 1,423 additional teachers and 246 support staff being recruited to date – more than its original estimate of 1,600 extra staff.
The spokeswoman added each council in Scotland had “increased recruitment in one or both areas” – either taking on extra teachers or support staff, or both.