Parent petition for qualified teachers makes progress
A petition lodged by parents in Renfrewshire seeking to protect teachers' working conditions had a second hearing at the parliament's education committee this week.
The call for the Scottish government to make it a "legal requirement that qualified teachers teach children for 25 hours in a normal school week" remains under review, pending the conclusion of negotiations between teaching unions, their local government employers and the government on the McCormac review of teacher employment.
In the meantime, members of the education committee have agreed to write to education secretary Michael Russell seeking information on what safeguards the government can put in place. And the EIS union has given its backing to the petition, lodged by Susan Calcluth-Russell on behalf of Renfrewshire Parent Council Forum.
The action was prompted by an attempt in 2011 by Renfrewshire Council to use non-qualified teachers, employed on lower pay rates, to deliver 2.5 hours per week in primary of an "enrichment programme".
Protests by teachers and parents led to the proposal being dropped. A recommendation in the McCormac report for non-teachers to be allowed to work with pupils without the supervision of a teacher was subsequently quashed by Mr Russell.
But the petitioners are concerned that the loophole still exists to allow other councils to implement similar plans to Renfrewshire's.
"The Renfrewshire policy was abandoned because parents and teachers opposed it - not because it was proven illegal. Current legislation does not protect from a similar proposal being introduced in Renfrewshire or elsewhere in Scotland," states the petition.
A separate petition by Enable Scotland, to ensure that all teachers and support staff are trained in additional support needs, has been forwarded by the parliament's education committee to the National Partnership Group and the General Teaching Council for Scotland to inform their implementation of the Donaldson report, Teaching Scotland's Future.