The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association today warned of the short term impact of the increasing age profile of the teaching profession.

“It is well documented that the age profile of teachers is hugely skewed to the top end and that the “bulge” is moving close to the point when significant drops in teacher numbers will occur. Whilst there has been some coverage of the need to replace those retiring teachers and the problems associated with this, much less has been said about the short-term impact as this generation moves towards retirement” said David Eaglesham, General Secretary.

“Increasing levels of age-related illness amongst older teachers will change the balance of supply needs in schools over the coming year. Demand for cover will increase at a time when available supply is already at a low ebb. Already many schools find severe difficulty in obtaining replacement staff for short and medium term absences, with consequent disruption for schools. Steps must be put in place now to address this problem before it becomes a crisis.”

The Association is reiterating its existing advice to members that they must not cover the classes of absent colleagues beyond the limits of their local or national agreements. A revised and updated information leaflet will be issued to schools early in 2005.

“All of our members will act professionally as always and ensure the best interest of young people are always paramount. This will not include, however, interminable additional cover of classes to the detriment of provision for a teacher's existing workload. No rational person would ask airline pilots or train drivers to continue to do additional hours beyond the contractual limits for fear of the consequences. Teachers should be treated likewise.”

Further information fromDAVID EAGLESHAM

General Secretary