Covid: Scottish Government suffers second defeat in weeks in education vote

THE Scottish Government has been defeated for the second time in three weeks over calls for more teachers to be hired to help schools cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The defeat follows MSPs instructing the Scottish Government, in a non-binding vote last month, to recruit a minimum of 2000 additional full-time teachers.

A Conservative motion, expressing “disappointment” that ministers have not yet brought forward proposals to achieve this, and calling again for the extra teachers to be recruited, was passed by 59 votes to four, with 61 abstentions.

Holyrood’s opposition parties have accused ministers of failing to act and have again called for more to be done to hire more school staff to deal with the “crippling” workload.

Opening the debate, Scottish Conservative education spokesman Jamie Greene said the Scottish Government has been “oddly silent” about respecting the will of the Parliament after losing votes.

He added: “Increasing teacher numbers delivers three clear benefits.

“One, it can help reduce class sizes and the obvious benefits that brings.

“Two, it increases the school resilience to deal with absences, and three, it helps increase subject choice.

“We know that this week an FOI we submitted shows that since 2014, average SQA course entries per pupil are down in 31 out of 32 local authorities. But the importance of teacher numbers is a principle we’ve already agreed in this parliament and, to date, no definitive plan has emerged on how the Government will honour that agreement.”

Education Secretary John Swinney responded by saying the Scottish Government has allocated £80 million and hired 1400 additional teachers as well as 246 support staff.

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