Moray teacher crisis brings angry exchange to council committee

The row over a failed attempt to introduce an amendment to last week’s Moray Council Budget on the reintroduction of Principal Teachers spilled into a committee meeting on Tuesday.

There was a heated exchange between Labour councillor for Fochabers/Lhanbryde, Sean Morton, and Tory member for the same ward, Douglas Ross. The pair are also contesting the forthcoming general election for their respective parties.

Following the angry exchange in the Policy and Resources committee on Tuesday, Councillor Morton accused his Tory opponent of being “absolutely shameless” in pretending that he was always on the right side of the issue.

He said: “It is absolutely shameless for Douglas Ross, an architect of the Tory-Independent plan to remove Principal Teachers two years ago, to pretend he’s always been on the right side of this issue.

“The fact is that he and the SNP are well aware that proposals are being finalised and will be presented in March that will give us the chance to return Principal Teachers to our schools.

“John Divers gets all the credit for pushing that the last year – not the SNP and the Tories. Our approach is funded for three years while theirs is funded for one. Our approach will be based on the latest evidence and will be built to last while theirs was designed for a quick fix and an easy headline.”

Following the debate Moray Labour released a Principal Teachers Fact Sheet that they said detailed the timeline of the Principal Teachers debate.

In it, the Director of Education and Social Care says that the SNP/Tory plan would not have had an impact any quicker than the Labour approach, given that no recruitment is required as Principal Teachers are still in post in most cases and simply need to resume their duties in the next academic year.

Last night Councillor Ross hit back, claiming that his Labour opponent “doth protest too much”.

He said: “Councillor Morton is clearly regretting his decision to vote against the reintroduction of Principal Teachers.

“No one would have mentioned the issue at Policy and Resources committee had Councillor Morton not used a discussion on last year’s revenue budget to try and save face on the U-turn the Labour group now seem to be doing on this issue.

“I got reminded of the saying ‘he doth protest too much’ listening to Councillor Morton in the Chamber and on reading a four page booklet the Labour party in Moray have produced.

“It’s like he’s running the wrong way up an escalator to backtrack on the way the Labour group voted just last Thursday.

“What I do think is shameless, however, is the lengths Councillor Morton is going to suggest the reintroduction of Principal Teacher is a Labour idea. The most important thing for our community is not which political party thinks it can score cheap points on this issue but when Moray Council will reintroduce these posts.

“In all the discussions I had about this last Thursday and at policy and Resources Committee I never once mentioned my own party, or any other. This is an issue that is above party politics and I hope Councillor Morton will bear that in mind in future.”

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