It's a pity that the Cabinet Secretary didn't question the statistics before pointing a finger of blame at North Lanarkshire for the drop in teacher numbers. A simple check would have given her plenty of reassurance.
The obvious answer is that the 2007 benchmark is highly misleading. In that year, out of regard for young teacher graduates, North Lanarkshire employed 109 more probationers than the allocated target. Excluding these from the statistics, the trend shows that North Lanarkshire has maintained its teacher numbers despite a substantial fall in pupil rolls.
North Lanarkshire is very proud of its investment record in education. We are currently funding a Pounds 250 million school modernisation programme with no government support from the much-lauded futures trust.
Despite budget pressures, we have achieved and maintained the 20-pupil limit in S1-2 English and mathematics. Despite government failure to provide legislative support, we have made significant progress towards the 18-pupil limit in P1-3. We have an impressive record in placing trainee probationers and, in addition, provide a first-class induction experience.
I look forward to robust discussion with the Cabinet Secretary when summoned to her meeting.
Councillor Jim Logue, convener of learning and leisure services, North Lanarkshire Council.