Next Scottish Parliament must deliver promises on teacher numbers & class sizes

Created on: 04 May 2021 | Last modified: 04 May 2021

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament election the EIS has called on all political parties to deliver on the promises they have made on employing more teachers and cutting class sizes to support post-Covid education recovery.

Each of Scotland’s main political parties have made Manifesto commitments to employ additional teachers during the next parliamentary term – and these commitments must be delivered to support education recovery.


Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "When we published our own EIS Manifesto for Education for these elections, we were clear that the main focus in the years ahead must be supporting an education-led recovery that will benefit the whole of Scotland.

"Absolutely central to this is the need to employ more teachers in our schools to support young people in education recovery. The Covid pandemic has had a profound impact on the educational experience of many young people across the country, with the most damaging negative impact often being experienced by those already facing significant disadvantage.

"Supporting an education-led recovery to allow all young people a fair opportunity to achieve their full potential must be the top priority for the next Scottish Parliament."

Mr Flanagan continued, "It is significant, and also welcome, that there appears to be consensus between Scotland’s main political parties on the need to employ more teachers to support education recovery. The EIS, and Scotland’s young people, parents and carers, will fully expect the commitments made on recruiting more teachers and supporting education recovery to be delivered no matter what the result of this election.

"Given the agreement, across the political spectrum, of the importance of employing more teachers, we will expect the Scottish Parliament to work on a collaborative basis to deliver this commitment."

Mr Flanagan went on to warn, "It will be essential, however, to ensure that local authorities deliver on the promises made to employ more teachers. While the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government set national policy on education, it is local authorities who employ teachers.

"In the past, we have seen frustrating examples of national commitments on teacher recruitment not being delivered in some parts of the country. Given the importance of employing more teachers to support the national recovery from Covid, Scotland's local authorities, and their representative body COSLA, must work with the Scottish Government to deliver these commitments on employing more teachers and supporting an education-led recovery.

"The EIS, and Scotland's voters, will be watching closely and will expect all commitments to be delivered in full.”

Manifesto commitments on teacher recruitment made by Scotland’s five main political parties (as elected to the Scottish Parliament at the last election): 

Scottish Conservatives

"The Scottish Conservatives would review the quality of teacher training and introduce a new workforce strategy worth £550 million to recruit 3,000 more teachers over the course of the next Parliament. This would support people with experience in sectors such as STEM to start a new career in teaching and create a Rural Teacher Fund to attract teachers to work in rural areas."

Scottish Greens

"Recruit more teachers. We will recruit 5,500 additional permanent teachers, an increase of 10%."

Scottish Labour

"Every probationary teacher should be given a guaranteed completion opportunity to ensure that they can gain registration and help to refresh our workforce. Trainee teachers who have been unable to complete training should be given the right to complete, at no cost to themselves.

"Additionally, Scottish Labour will end temporary contracts and zero hour supply teacher arrangements. To help make this possible, we will restore teacher numbers, increasing them by 3,000 over the course of the parliament with a proportionate increase in support staff."

Scottish Liberal Democrats

"A teacher job guarantee. No teacher should be unemployed or feel underemployed when the new school term begins in August. We need the talents of everyone in the teaching profession, so children get the most out of their time back in school. Every qualified teacher should be guaranteed a job. They will help with smaller class sizes, more one-on-one help, and additional support needs in the classroom.

"We will extend the Pupil Equity Fund which provides money directly to schools for extra teachers, more pupil support assistants, one-to-one tuition and hobbies for children from less well-off backgrounds. By making the fund a permanent feature we will give confidence to schools to recruit additional staff and reduce short-term contracts.

"We will boost the teaching workforce with simpler processes to allow qualified teachers from outside Scotland to join the Scottish teaching profession while maintaining professional standards."

Scottish National Party

"Recruit at least 3,500 additional teachers and classroom assistants – over and above the 1400 teachers recruited during the pandemic – allowing teachers more time out of the classroom to prepare lessons and improve their skills."

The EIS Manifesto
For an Education led recovery -  calls for a progressive expansion of the teaching workforce to enable:

    • Class size reduction to support education recovery – with an ultimate target of 20 maximum

    • A reduction in maximum class contact time to match OECD norms – with a target of 20 hours

    • An end to zero-hours supply lists.