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Scotland - Fall in teacher ranks 'could continue'

Teacher numbers in Scotland could continue to diminish, education secretary Michael Russell has admitted as he prepares to overhaul almost all the Scottish National Party government's education commitments.

Mr Russell has avoided the undertaking given by Fiona Hyslop, his predecessor, that teacher numbers should be maintained at the 2007 levels of 53,000. They have already fallen by more than 2,000 in the past three years.

"We need to maintain the teaching profession for the circumstances we find ourselves in," said Mr Russell. "Realistically, it has not been possible for local authorities to continue to employ the same number of teachers as two years ago. They say that, and I understand that."

Mr Russell acknowledged that the jobs crisis has had an effect both on the Government's class size pledge in the infant years and on the teacher education institutions, which will see their funding reduced from #163;30 million to #163;22 million following a cut in the intake of trainee teachers. NM.

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