HC Deb 11 February 1999 vol 325 c371W
Mr. Gorrie

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has to collect information on(a) the numbers of visiting specialist teachers in primary schools, (b) the numbers of class and specialist teachers in primary and secondary schools on short-term contracts and (c) shortages of teachers for particular types of post, or subject or as supply teachers. [69733]

Mrs. Liddell

Information on the number and characteristics of teachers in schools has been collected via a regular census of all teachers working in schools on a particular date. The last such census took place in September 1998 and did not categorise visiting specialists directly. Information on the number of class and specialist teachers in primary and secondary schools on short-term contracts was collected in the 1998 census and teachers were asked explicitly whether they were on a permanent or temporary contracts and whether they were on a supply list at the time. Provisional results from the 1998 census are expected to be available in Summer 1999.

The Scottish Office and other main partners in the education system have also been working together to enable schools to supply data electronically through the National Management Information Systems (NMIS) Project. A number of schools already provide data in this way and it has been agreed that by 2002, all schools will do so. The data specification for the NMIS Project does allow visiting specialists to be identified. The Scottish Office will consult with its partners as to whether a further census of data from teachers is needed before 2002.

While there can always be supply difficulties in particular subjects or areas, we are not aware that vacancies remain unfilled in any quantity because of shortages of teachers. The Scottish Office is aware that some authorities are having difficulty in maintaining adequate numbers of supply teachers to provide cover and will shortly be undertaking work to obtain better information from education authorities on the demand for the deployment of supply teachers. From 1 July 1999, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

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