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'Surplus' staff have no work

Edinburgh City Council is currently paying out nearly Pounds 600,000 to employ six primary and 19 secondary teachers although it has no jobs for them. Senior councillors are blaming the city's no-redundancy policy, which is in jeopardy because of the looming financial crisis.

Elizabeth Maginnis, education convener, told last week's education committee there was no money in the budget to pay for the extra staff, who were "surplus to requirements" due to changes in specialist subjects in both primary and secondary.

Officials maintain that staff have become surplus because of changes in rolls, variations in pupils' subject choice and fluctuations in year groups. Attempts are being made to fill part-time or full-time vacancies, often caused by maternity leave or long-term illness, with the extra teachers.

George Rubienski, teachers' representative on the education committee, pointed out that the city was already falling below government guidelines on staffing. "If we had a different economic climate, they would be employed usefully to deliver the kind of policies we believe in," Mr Rubienski said.

Mrs Maginnis suggested that the council's options in offering earlier retirement to "teachers not up to scratch" would be closed off once government changes to the teachers' superannuation scheme are introduced next April. The council, not the Government, will bear the costs of early severance.

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