We are facing many challenges in all walks of life due to the covid lockdowns. However, Moray’s education faced a tough challenge before lockdown, which will still be there when we return to normal.
Moray Education department’s massive problem is attracting and retaining teaching staff. I believe this is down to two longstanding issues that have been a slight problem for some time and are becoming critical.
The first issue is that people no longer wish to become or stay as teachers. As teachers come nearer retirement age, they are increasingly becoming disillusioned by the system’s changes over the past 15-20 years. Many choose to retire early, glad to be out of it, while others, younger, decide it is better to try a career change. The overall view is that changes made to the system have put unbearable pressure on teachers, and if there is an alternative to get out, many are taking this route.
All this would not in itself be a huge problem, but children leaving school now and considering a career have seen at first hand the pressures and difficulties teachers face and are backing away from teaching as a career. Many go to university to get a degree followed by teacher training only to decide at the last moment it is not for them. The educational supply of teachers is being squeezed from both ends.
The second issue, which may be partly responsible for the first issue, is that the government has put in place impossible demands with overreaching legislation with which teachers struggle to cope.
ReformUK Scotland is committed to scrapping the ‘Curriculum for excellence’, which will return classroom control to our teachers. The policies set in place by the government has demanded ever-improving standards in our schools while ensuring failure by over-working and the stress this places on our nation’s teachers.
The pool of teachers is decreasing year by year when measured compared to the number of pupils. The report issued by the government in 2020 shows an increase in the number of teachers, but when examined, the pro-rata increase was only in primary education. Secondary education slipped, and rural areas such as Moray were hit particularly bad. The basic fact is that there are not enough teachers for requirements, and teachers are more reluctant to move to rural areas.
Therefore, rural areas are the canary in the mine for the education system. Unless they act now to stem the flow of graduates from the teaching profession, 2020 may be the last year in which we see an increase in teachers’ number for quite some time.