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Jobs drive for primary staff

David Henderson reports on the Executive's plans to sell the profession to would-be teachers - and to keep them in it

THE Scottish Executive will have to find an extra pound;75 million to employ the 2,954 extra teachers local authorities need to meet the terms of the post-McCrone agreement - 2,500 of them in primary and fewer than one per school.

Secondaries will on average gain one member of staff, although the Executive says it is well on its way to adding an extra 1,000 teachers to the combined staffing complement under existing commitments.

Union leaders, however, doubt whether ministers will recruit sufficient teachers to compensate for the retirement boom that will strike over the next 10 years and fear calculations may have to be revised.

The Executive has already admitted it does not know precisely how many teachers it will need, where they will be needed most or in what secondary subjects and has established a review to turn the guesswork into a more accurate science.

A key aim of the ground-breaking pound;1.5 million national recruitment campaign, launched last week at Alexander Peden primary in Harthill, North Lanarkshire, is to cut the wastage rate in teacher education institutions from the current 15 per cent to 5 per cent, in line with other professions.

Better pay and career progression, alongside improved discipline measures and extra support staff, should help cement students into the profession, the Executive believes.

In targeting primary staff, the Executive's hand has been forced by the cut in class contact time from 25 to 22.5 hours within five years. But it does not yet see any advantage in following the English route of training salaries and golden hellos for shortage subjects. There is no evidence that financial incentives encourage people to sign up for teacher training, the Executive points out.

One incentive being consideed for mature recruits is a placement higher up the new scales than a start on the basic salary of pound;18,300. Probationers have already been promised a one-year training place with guaranteed mentoring.

Launching the campaign, Jack McConnell said that there was a unique opportunity to turn round years of disillusionment and lack of appreciation for teachers.

"First of all we have to raise the status of the profession and put teachers back at the heart of education and secure the respect and value for the profession that should always have been there," the Education Minister said.


* Jack McConnell: "I always wanted to be a teacher. I can remember being in primary 3-4 with a teacher called Mrs McNicol who first developed my interest in maths, or sums as it was then. I told her I wanted to become a maths teacher.

"I was inspired by the school environment and I had four top-class primary teachers who make a difference to the lives of young people. A good teacher you never forget and sometimes a bad teacher you never forget as well."

* Morag Hay, headteacher of Alexander Peden primary, Harthill: "Apparently, as a young girl I used to say I wanted to be a teacher so that I could be a bus conductor during the holidays. Luckily, I chose the right end of things. I went to university and having done a general arts degree it wasn't focused enough and a lot of my friends had started teaching and knew where they were going."

* Scott Clark, probationer at Alexander Peden primary: "I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from an early age. It was always my ambition. When I was at school I had a headmaster everyone admired and he was a big part of it. I felt I was always a good all-rounder and perhaps these talents could be used in primary teaching where you're using everything. I didn't feel I wanted to specialise in secondary."

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