Comment: ‘Parents will care if classes are cancelled’

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Parents will be deeply concerned by the suggestion that a teacher shortage has led to classes being cancelled for pupils in the Capital.

There are few things more important than the education of our children and, thankfully, the city’s schools have so far managed to avoid the kind of crisis that has engulfed our health service.

They have had their problems to deal with, of course, including a cull of senior management posts in order to balance the Capital’s 
education budget.

The recent baby boom has also put pressure on already crowded schools, but few concerns have been raised about the quality of teaching youngsters are receiving.

Concerns are now being raised that the effects of earlier cuts are now starting to impact on schools.

Whereas there were once enough teachers involved in management that someone could always be found to step back into teaching duties in an emergency, it seems some are now finding they have no-one they can draft in.

The recruitment drive being launched by the city is going to be crucial. It needs in particular to attract scores of new probationer teachers to replace their more experienced colleagues who have been giving up supply teaching in their droves due to the low pay.

The proposed pay deal, which emerged today, offering some increase to supply staff, may or may not make a difference. The offer has yet to be accepted by teachers and even if it is, only time will tell whether it has the desired effect.

If it doesn’t work, then another solution will need to be found. Perhaps the Scottish Government will have to step in with some extra cash for school budgets, or maybe a modest premium could be offered to recently retired teachers in order to tempt more of them back as emergency cover.

Parents won’t care especially what solution is found, or who pays for it, but they will care greatly if they see classes being cancelled due to staff shortages.