Teachers working on temporary contracts across Scotland have accused John Swinney of “turning his back” on them after they worked through the Covid-19 lockdown.
In a letter addressed to the education secretary, a group who describe themselves as the “anxious, exhausted and forgotten temporary teachers” claim they have been discriminated against when trying to secure a permanent teaching position.
It comes after the government announced last week that every full registered probationary teacher would be able to secure teaching posts for the next year – a move which disappointed those working on temporary contracts.
Writing in the letter, the group said: “You have turned your back on us.
“We, the hundreds of temporary teachers who have worked tirelessly, before and during the Covid-19 crisis, to support the education of the Scottish nation’s school children and the policies of the Scottish Government through these difficult times.
“We have contracts with the council, we work full time as teachers for the council. When a full-time post becomes available, we are however prevented from applying for it as the council preclude us from submitting internal applications.
“This is discriminatory at best and a situation that is being perpetuated by the councils who claim there continue to be no external posts available either.”
We are asking to be placed on an equal footing with our teaching colleagues with whom we share an equal commitment and passion for a role we have trained many years for.
The Anxious, Exhausted and Forgotten Temporary Teachers
The group also claim that the government has failed to recognise the sacrifices they have made by working through the Covid-19 lockdown and the stresses it has placed on them.
They added: “Working through this pandemic has been an ordeal for everyone involved and as teachers, we have come together to ensure our pupils’ wellbeing has been placed at the forefront of all our endeavours.
“However, despite our commitment and personal sacrifice in support of the sector and the government’s policies, our own wellbeing has been ignored and has thus suffered immensely.
“Whilst providing newly qualified teachers with a year of employment is fantastic for the enthusiastic cohort who have made it through their most difficult year, it is also incredibly divisive, cruel and discriminating to the rest of the teaching sector and in particular supply teachers.”
The group expressed their anger over the lack of job security and called on the education secretary to review the current recruitment process in place across Scotland.
They said: “We are asking to be placed on an equal footing with our teaching colleagues with whom we share an equal commitment and passion for a role we have trained many years for.
“We implore you to review the recruitment process for Scottish teachers. We have made a personal commitment to this profession and the pupils that we educate and nurture. We should not be cast aside as a cost-cutting measure.”
Responding to the letter, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Teachers are working incredibly hard to support pupils through these extraordinary times.
“We value, and thank, all teachers for their professional contribution.
“We want schools to return to normality as soon as it is safe to do so. We will need all possible teaching resources at our disposal over the next year to compensate for any loss of learning suffered during lockdown, as well as to bring much needed resilience to the education system at this challenging time.
“We are working with local authorities to establish what additional staff are needed. Once we know that, we will take steps to meet that demand.”