Teachers and curriculum fit for purpose, but not facilities

Councils which fail to replace retired teachers, thereby skewing workforce planning, are not "contributing positively" to the concordat, the Education Secretary has warned.

Local authorities must provide robust information about the number of teachers they employ and their future plans so the Government can estimate accurately the number of teachers it needs to train, Fiona Hyslop told the annual conference of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.

"The Teacher Employment Working Group has confirmed that our national workforce planning system is broadly fit for purpose but has identified some areas for improvement. I am committed to working with you to secure these improvements - and that includes ensuring there is better reconciliation between the national workforce planning exercise and local staffing decision-making," she said.

Ms Hyslop also urged directors to take responsibility for the education commitments in the concordat. It was up to them to "drive forward" A Curriculum for Excellence, she said. And she reminded them that the money was there to keep teacher numbers at 2007 levels, giving them the "headroom" to reduce class sizes.

It was still "full steam ahead", John Stodter, general secretary of ADES, assured her, but there was a problem about the fuel supply. The increases in cost burdens on local authorities were "considerable", he pointed out.

Bruce Robertson, director of education in Aberdeenshire, said Scotland not only needed a curriculum and inspiring teachers fit for the 21st century - it also needed facilities.

Four secondaries in his local authority were "badly in need of construction", he said. Sixty per cent of pupils attending Alford Academy - which the council is rebuilding with its own funding - were currently housed in huts. But with costs running to Pounds 40-Pounds 50 million per school, a nationally-led building programme was needed.

Ms Hyslop argued, however, that a nationally-led school building programme existed and Pounds 1 billion was being invested over the next few years.

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