Number of retired teachers returning to classrooms is ‘exceptionally low’

By Tom Eden
PA Archive

Attempts to recruit retired teachers resulted in an “exceptionally low” number returning to classrooms, Scotland’s Education Secretary has admitted.

Shirley-Anne Somerville told Holyrood’s Education Committee that a “very small” number of retired teachers responded to appeals to return to support pupils and schools during the pandemic.

But the minister said the Scottish Government’s strategy to try and rehire former teachers would continue, despite the apparent failure to attract them back to the industry so far.

Challenged about teacher recruitment during the pandemic, Ms Somerville said: “Earlier on in the pandemic, we did, of course, put a call out via the general teaching council for Scotland for retired teachers if they wanted to come back into the profession for some time.

Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville (left) said a very small number of retired teachers responded to Government pleas to return to the profession (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

“The uptake of that, I have to say, was exceptionally low.

“A very small, small number came forward from that.”

She added: “But it is something that we are looking to do again to see whether any difference could be made.

“I would say, at the outset, we would again expect the numbers from that to be low – as with other countries – but we certainly think it’s something which should be approached.”

Ms Somerville referenced a £145.5 million Budget allocation for staff recruitment so local authorities could theoretically employ up to 2,500 extra teachers or 500 support staff, although she was unable to say how many have so far been recruited.

“We can’t put an exact figure on it because we are not dictating to local authorities, how that money should be spent,” she said.


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