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Trainee rise sparks backlash

Education Secretary Michael Russell's announcement this week of an increase in the number of student-teacher places in universities provoked an immediate backlash.

Labour's new education spokesman, Hugh Henry, accused the Government of "lurching from one extreme to another", having previously slashed teacher numbers.

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said: "The Government continues to address only the supply side through training more teachers, and not the demand side where local authorities have been employing fewer teachers."

This underlined the need for a national staffing standard in schools to ensure a consistent approach across all local authorities, he said.

But the Government argued that 300 more teachers needed to be trained in 2012-13 - 200 primary and 100 secondary - in order to boost the number of probationers in 2013-14.

Pupil numbers in primary schools increased in 2011, the Government said, and will continue to do so until peaking in 2018; pupil numbers in secondary school are predicted to start rising in 2017. A spokesman added that the number of teachers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance had fallen by 29 per cent in the past year.

"We will continue to monitor the situation to provide necessary stability and smooth out the boom-and-bust management of teacher recruitment that we have seen in Scotland over recent decades," said Mr Russell.

Chatroom, p39.

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