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Councils eschew Government's #163;10m 'teacher refresh' scheme

All but two councils have shunned the Government's pound;10 million plan to boost the recruitment of new teachers through a "teacher refresh" scheme, it has emerged.

Only Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire have applied to take part in the scheme, announced last year by the former education secretary Fiona Hyslop. It offered them a borrowing facility of up to pound;10m over two years to give older teachers early retirement packages and replace them with new recruits. Ms Hyslop said last autumn she expected the package to create 500 jobs for new entrants.

But most councils are choosing to set up their own early retirement schemes, saying they fear the Government's will land them in more debt because it simply allows them to borrow more money.

The Education Secretary, Michael Russell, described the low take-up as "a missed opportunity".

South Ayrshire Council, however, said it was embarking on its "largest recruitment exercise in recent years", but was choosing to fund the scheme itself. It is recruiting for more than 20 promoted and 50 unpromoted posts - spread across all sectors of education. Some 30 teachers have retired, a number of them prematurely.

A spokeswoman said the council scheme had been introduced as part of its drive to introduce more efficient and effective ways of working.

This had meant looking at management structures and faculty approaches within schools, she added.

"We are delighted to be able to offer so many permanent posts for probationer teachers, which has been a real challenge for authorities across the country," said Brian McInroy, South Ayrshire's head of service and school management.

Glasgow City Council has agreed early retirement packages for 98 teachers. It has advertised a number of secondary posts but is unlikely to be recruiting for primary until after its pupil census in September. A spokeswoman said the Government scheme was "not consistent" with its workforce planning approach.

Fife and North Ayrshire are also understood to be running their own local teacher refresh schemes.

"I urge other councils to consider similar approaches," said Mr Russell.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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