Fears of cash clawback over ‘failure’ to recruit teachers

Moray worked hard to recruit teachers - now the region could be penalised
Moray worked hard to recruit teachers – now the region could be penalised

COUNCIL OFFICIALS ARE seeking “urgent clarification” from the Scottish Government over the rules governing a clawback of cash aimed at helping teacher recruitment.

Earlier this year Scotland’s deputy first minister announced a £51million fund aimed at helping in the retention of teaching staff throughout Scotland.

However, John Swinney promised that he would claw the cash back from any Council that lost staff during the course of the year. Now that could cost Moray their share of the £51m fund, as the Council revealed they had lost eight teachers.

Fears are being raised that Mr Swinney will announce a penalty when he reveals the Scottish Government budget next week – but now Moray Council are seeking clarification over the interpretation of rule governing clawback of the funding.

A Council spokesman said: “It is our clear understanding that there will be no sanction if, as has happened, any decrease in teacher numbers was in proportion to any decrease in pupil numbers. That is something on which we will now be seeking urgent clarification.”

Moray has been at the forefront of a raft of measures aimed at attracting new teachers to the region, including a sponsorship deal with local house builders Springfield that offered free accommodation for six months to new recruits.

The Scottish Government policy has been strongly criticised by COSLA, who insist that it was far too harsh from the start. A spokesman said: “The truth is that no council has failed on education – that could only happen if children had been let down in some way, and there is absolutely no suggestion of that having happened in any council area.

“What has failed, as it has in other areas of public service, is a crazy, simplistic and ill thought through policy. It is becoming increasingly embarrassing that we continue to focus so hard on delivering a target which is educationally irrelevant.”

A Scottish Government spokesman has insisted that no decisions on the funding for teacher numbers will be taken before the budget statement.