A TEACHING union has warned of a looming staffing crisis in Scotland's schools as a raft of funding issues create an "impossible" squeeze on the ability to hire teachers.

EIS teaching union and teachers spoke about reported issues and say robust teaching numbers do not show the true picture in Scottish classrooms. 

During the covid pandemic schools were given additional funding that supported the employment of extra staffing but this has since been withdrawn.

Wage bills have risen following successful pay campaigning by teachers but PEF (Pupil Equity Funding) money from the Scottish Government as part of means to challenge the attainment gap has stood still.  

In Glasgow the local authority hires between 300 and 340 probationer teachers each year. 

The EIS said that routinely over the past 10 years the council has recruited the vast majority of probationers in a permanent named school, on permanent supply or on a fixed term contract from August while also hiring probationers from other councils.

A points system is used in teacher recruitment in Glasgow with those who have employment rights - such as approved two years continuous service - are allocated posts before moving on to new recruits.

The union spokesperson said: "This year, more so than last year, though last year was tough, schools are not recruiting anyone at all or not recruiting anywhere near enough people because they don't forsee that there are any vacancies for fixed term contracts.

"They have taken people who are fixed term or probationers on supply so they will get long term work come September but they are not recruiting in certain subject areas because they won't have vacancies.

"In the past they would have taken on a few extras because they knew they would need them come September so they would take on a couple of extra people to be surplus but they don't have money to do that."

One Glasgow teacher gave her school as an example of the issue with the lack of an increase in PEF. She said the school has £97,000 of PEF that is used towards teacher's wages but last year's salary cost was 12.% lower than this year.

She said: "Last year my predecessor has been able to employ an extra member of staff from their PEF, I can only employ a teacher part time for that money. 

"And that impacts on everything."

One insider said: "The PEF thing is sickening. They are making a big noise about PEF funding but it is not increasing in line with inflation at all. 

"The attainment challenge money has reduced. Money has reduced across the board and that has an impact on everything schools want to do. 

"It's just impossible, it's just impossible."

Teacher numbers in Scotland have risen significantly since 2014, up eight per cent from 49,521 to 53,459 in December last year. 

The Scottish Government says primary teacher numbers remain historically high – the third highest since 1980, having reached the highest since 1980 last year. 

But another teacher, who asked not to be named, said funding issues meant his school was not taking on the additional staff needed.

He said: "It leaves everyone stretched. We need to have some flexibility and enough staff to allow for sickness, additional support and staff training.

"That isn't there, and nor are the permanent jobs for teachers who need stability.

"Supply is great for a lot of people but if you want routine and a mortgage it's a nightmare.

"It's all that's on offer for a lot of us though."

Recently Glasgow City Council announced it would no longer fund its 29 home school support workers who work with families and liaise with schools.

As part of £4 million of cuts to education services, the council is also closing two assessment centres for under fives with additional needs.

There is also a question mark over the future of Developing the Young Workforce staff who are based in schools and funded with Scottish Government money.

Glasgow has focused on ensuring all secondary pupils move into "positive destinations" on leaving school - such as apprenticeships, work, or further study - and the DYW staff are a key part of recent successes in boosting positive destination figures.

The EIS spokesperson said: "One of the ways to plug these cuts is to ask schools to use PEF money but, again, the PEF money is not increasing.

"So when you're adding up all these bits you are starting to see where the gaps are - numbers won't have dropped but they won't have increased and there are a lot of temporary staff.

"Maureen [McKenna] really fought for Glasgow to have increased teaching numbers when she was director of education but those are coming to a standstill." 

In previous years schools might hire surplus staff to be ready to step in and cover any absences when the school year began in August. 

Under existing rules, teachers with two years continuous service are guaranteed a job. 

However, due to funding restraints, schools are waiting to find out exactly what staffing levels are needed and so have teachers who are not hired until week three of term.

This means they cannot accrue enough continuous service to secure a permanent contract.

The EIS spokeswoman said: "For a crop of teachers it will become more and more difficult to get permanency.

"For the young people, this is going to impact on them in that schools are not going to have the flexibility to do additional support in the way they previously did. 

"And that will affect raising attainment. 

"All the news stories seen recently around behaviour are going to be difficult for schools to support and that will be really really problematic because staffing will be tighter than it's been in a long time."

The EIS said there was little hope in sight to rectifying the issue without the Scottish Government reassessing funding for local authorities.

The spokesperson said: "In Glasgow, education has been protected and now everything else is cut to the bare bones and they're coming after education. 

"We know in this year's budget Glasgow had planned for £55 million of cuts and then things changed and it got sorted but there is a definite sense that things are tight at local authority level.

"In the past our council officials would have said this was 'efficiencies' but now they're really clear that it's cuts and they're not hiding that it's cuts. 

"The Scottish Government needs to put its money where its mouth is - this crop of teachers have been told they are guaranteed a job, they've been told it's deplorable that they are on these contracts but nothing has been done to fix it.

"The probation year gives people a lot of false hope because you're given that initial year and then you're left hanging."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "In Scotland we have the most teachers-per-pupil in the UK and we also invest more per school pupil. In 2022-2023, the Scottish Government spent over £8,500 per pupil – at least £1,300 more than in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

"In Glasgow, the number of teachers has increased by more than 17% since 2016 and the pupil teacher ratio is the fourth lowest in Scotland at just 12.5 pupils per teachers

"We are committed to supporting the recruitment of more teachers, and we are providing £145.5 million in this year's budget to protect increased teacher numbers."

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson declined to comment but said any cuts would not affect teaching numbers, which will be maintained at the same level for the next academic term as this year.