'Reckless' to say cash shortage leaves schools unsafe

Education secretary says schools are safe as he clashes with Tory rival over coronavirus response and funding concerns

Henry Hepburn

Coronavirus: It's 'reckless' to suggest that schools in Scotland are unsafe, says education secretary John Swinney

Education secretary John Swinney has reacted angrily to a rival's claim that a lack of funding could leave teachers and pupils "at risk" from the coronavirus.

The clash came after North East Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked for an update on plans to recruit more teachers to deal with the demands of Covid-19.

Mr Swinney replied that  having recently announced £80 million to enable local authorities to recruit around 1,400 extra teachers and 200 support staff this year  current estimates from local authorities' body Cosla suggested that 1,118 teachers had already been recruited, with plans in place to recruit another 250.

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However, Mr Kerr said that 83 per cent of Aberdeen-based  members of the EIS teaching union reported no reductions in class sizes, and that Aberdeen City Council had warned that its schools needed twice as many staff to make that happen.

Coronavirus: Schools operating 'on a safe basis'

He asked: "Will the cabinet secretary provide the money required to allow Aberdeen schools to do as the Scottish government requires, or will he leave teachers and pupils at risk from the virus and schools at risk of closing?"

In response, Mr Swinney said: "I think that Mr Kerr gets more and more reckless with his language every time I hear him speak. Our schools are safe today and it does nobody any service whatsoever for a member of the Parliament to come to the Parliament and to say things as reckless as Mr Kerr’s remarks were about the safety of our schools.

"We put in place guidance to ensure that our schools could be safe. They have returned on a safe basis and they have sustained their operations on a safe basis.

"Instead of coming to the chamber and scaremongering, as he has done, I suggest that Mr Kerr looks at the evidence."

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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