Education Cuts by Stealth are Hurting Children and Teachers

Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary said.

“Many local authorities have embarked upon a campaign of education cuts by removing education support staff in schools or not replacing them when they leave. This leaves an additional burden upon the teachers in schools who are expected to cover the work of the staff who are no longer there. Education support staff were appointed for essential educational purposes to remove this vital support by stealth is to fail the children and classroom teachers. Unfortunately, it does not end there we are hearing of local authorities delaying or refusing to employ supply teachers to cover gaps left when teachers have moved to another post, go on maternity leave and to cover sick teachers. We are told there is a shortage of teachers, yet we are told by our supply teachers they are not getting appointed to council supply registers and are unable to get regular work. This all puts more pressure on the teachers left behind and it is no wonder we hear that teachers are looking to leave that will only be to the detriment of our children in schools now”.

“The most important part of a schoolteachers’ job is teaching their classes and ensuring that every child’s learning improves. If you ask any teacher ‘what is the best part of being a teacher?’ they would all say that being in the class teaching their pupils. Teachers are leaving the profession due to the ever-increasing pressures from outside the classroom to produce paper and statistics for headteachers, parents, Council Officers, Education Scotland Inspectors, and the Scottish Government. All this so these bodies can prove that they are doing their job. Not at any stage does anyone ask, ‘Is this a good use of teacher time and does this improve teaching and learning?’

“The local councils must value and protect teachers, this underhand way of saving money is disrespectful to teachers and the children they teach. Unfortunately, the local authorities saw the recent teacher industrial action and the failure to delay or not replace teacher vacancies, teachers on maternity leave or on sick leave as valuable money saving exercises.”  

Glasgow Council is a good example where it removed all their attendance officers when pupil absences were increasing with the expectation that teachers would just cover the work. A Glasgow SSTA member said.

".. the responsibility of pupil attendance, the bureaucracy and ‘paper trail for paper trail’s sake’ has just landed with the teacher and is getting beyond a joke. We are being made accountable for every child’s attendance and this work expected on top of our classes/remits/curriculum etc. There is a lack of time, resources, education support staff, a lack of mental health care, for us but we are being made to create reams of paperwork – in the knowledge that nothing will come of it. We are expected to take on every job that Glasgow Council has taken away. We are to become Educational Psychologists (we have to do all their paperwork, even though we are not qualified to analyse it), School Nurse, Attendance Officer, Social Worker, etc. I am sad to say this is pushing me away from a job I love but for my own well-being I will be looking away from teaching”.

Stuart Hunter SSTA President said.

“Teacher’s time is finite, yet tasks placed upon them are taking them further and further away from teaching and learning. Teachers must be instructed to focus upon the most important task of teaching children. All these additional tasks and duties must be placed against a very simple criterion ‘Will this task enhance my teaching?’ If not, it should be left undone or if it is important, undertaken by ‘someone else’.  Unfortunately, the someone else in schools has nearly all but disappeared. Local authorities have been forced into saving money over several years. However, choosing to save money by failing to replace Education Support staff is a clear choice by Local Authorities to place the additional burden on all the teachers left behind, taking them further away from the core job of teaching and learning. The SSTA says Let Teachers Teach and the children will be the winners”.

“The demands placed upon teachers is excessive and teachers need to protect themselves from being worn down and bunt out. The SSTA advises all members to focus on teaching and learning and not to take on tasks that do not require the skills and expertise of a teacher. The SSTA is always ready to support members from bureaucratic burdens to reduce workload and recognise the most important task of teaching”.


26 October 2023