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Teaching numbers drop by 2,302

The number of local education authority teachers has dropped by 2.2 per cent in the two years to last September, compared to a 4.3 per cent fall in the overall figures for local government staff, writes Neil Munro.

The latest returns from the joint staffing watch, undertaken by the Scottish Office and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, shows there were 51,352 teachers employed in September 1997, which is 1,155 fewer than in September 1995. The total reduction of full-time equivalent staff was 10,566 during the same period.

Between December 1994 and September 1997, there was a drop in teacher numbers of 2,302 - a decrease of 4.3 per cent.

The bulk of the job losses occurred during the 1995-96 local government shake-up when a total of 6,600 council staff were shed. But the reorganisation period from September 1995 to December 1996 actually shows an increase in the number teachers of 1,400.

Commenting on the figures, Kate Maclean, vice-president of local authorities convention, pointed out that "the fall in numbers was not caused by local government reorganisation but by the very strict spending regimes to which councils had to adhere".

Ms Maclean, who is the council leader in Dundee, added: "There will undoubtedly be more job losses in the future and services will inevitably be affected. The public will not necessarily notice, however, because the staff remaining will continue to work extremely hard to ensure that services are provided which, of course, puts our employees under enormous stress."

The tables also show there are an average of 10 teachers per thousand of the population ranging from 7.6 in Edinburgh to 21.2 in Shetland.

There were 21,808 non-teaching staff employed by education authorities last September, compared with 24,628 two years previously. This represents 4.3 per thousand people, ranging from 2.7 in East Lothian to 8.7 in Shetland.

But school cleaning and catering staff, who were formerly grouped with non-teaching education staff, are now separately classified as direct labour or direct service organisations.

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