The annual census of Scottish schools has revealed that the number of teachers working in the Borders had fallen for the fourth successive year.
The findings, contained in the Scottish Government’s 2015 statistical report on Scottish schools, reveal there were 1,072 teachers, comprising 453 in primaries, 474 in secondaries, 23 in early learning facilities and 122 who were “centrally employed”.
The total is 17 down on the 1,089 teachers recorded in the region in September 2014, 61 down in the 2013 figure of 1,133 and 85 down on 2012’s workforce of 1,157.
The report, published following the annual census which took place in September, says Scottish Borders Council was one of only ten of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to preside over a reduction in teachers over the past year.
Acknowledging the fall in numbers, a spokesperson for SBC explained: “In June, 2015, the council’s teacher numbers were submitted to the Scottish Government and were slightly above the September, 2014 figure [1,089].
“However, in the period between July and August this year, SBC appointed a significant number of new primary head teachers which had the knock-on effect of creating teacher and deputy head teacher vacancies. In addition a number of teachers were on maternity leave and absent through sickness.”
While noting that a census on a particular day did not give a true reflection of numbers, the spokesperson added: “SBC is committed to filling vacancies and is prioritising this issue.
“A number of measures are being taken, including advertising, putting in place a permanent supply pool for primary schools and making sure as many permanent posts as possible are available.”
Not surprisingly given the fall in teacher numbers, the national report shows that average pupil:teacher ratios in the Borders have risen to 13.8:1 compared to 13.7:1 in 2014, 13.3:1 in 2013 and 13.2:1 in 2012.
However, the percentage of P1-3 pupils in classes of 18 or less went up from 12.7% to 14.3%, outstripping the Scottish average of 12.2%.