Literacy tests for Ministers, MSPs and civil servants

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

Your editorial on teacher workforce planning and the staffing demands of the future (January 9) raises important questions about the education department of the Scottish Government.

It is remarkable that Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, gave such inaccurate information to Parliament's education committee to the extent of over-estimating retirements from teaching by 50 per cent. All that was needed was to look, as you clearly did, at the Teachers in Scotland census to see that one-third of her so-called retirements are people who will mostly return to teaching at a later date.

Why did none of the education committee members notice her error? Why was it not drawn it to her attention so that she could correct the error during the hearing? Why has the inaccurate statement not been subsequently withdrawn?

The error is important in further shaking our confidence in the ability of the Scottish Government to plan for an adequate supply of teachers in our schools. Perhaps Ministers, MSPs and civil servants should also sit the Primary 7 numeracy test?

Douglas Weir, Emeritus professor, University of Strathclyde.

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