Correcting the mischief-making

6th February 2009 at 00:00

I read with interest Douglas Weir's letter on January 23. While I am not one to stop distinguished academics having fun at the expense of MSPs and civil servants, I did not think we should let his mischief-making go uncorrected.

To say that Fiona Hyslop overestimated retirements from teaching by 50 per cent is wholly without foundation. The Cabinet Secretary made clear that the figure of around 6,000 teachers leaving the profession every year was exactly that - leavers for a whole range of reasons, not just retirals.

During the parliamentary education committee hearing, to which Professor Weir referred, we may have used retirals as a shorthand for that wider group, but the committee - and any reasonable reader of the Official Report - was well aware that we were talking about those leaving the profession for that whole range of reasons.

The fact remains - and if Professor Weir doesn't accept it, he sits alone in unhappy isolation - that we do face a huge demographic pressure in teaching in Scotland. Many thousands of experienced teachers will be leaving the profession for good over the next few years. Replacing them provides a challenge, but also an exciting opportunity. It is an opportunity to which I know members of the education committee and ministers in the Scottish Government will be devoting considerable attention.

Kenny Gibson MSP, Scottish Parliament.

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