The Scottish Liberal Democrats have unveiled a plan to boost the teaching profession ahead of the party’s autumn conference.
The proposals to be discussed in Dunfermline, Fife, on September 8 include a call for a new premium to attract teachers to schools in disadvantaged areas and retention bonuses for those who commit to posts in hard-to-fill areas.
The party wants one-year probationer contracts to be extended by an optional two years to help encourage graduates to take up posts in areas such as the Highlands and the north-east.
A guaranteed minimum level of support staff in every school and a pay rise for teachers are among the additional proposals.
The party has repeatedly called for an independent expert commission to re-examine teachers’ terms and conditions, similar to the 2001 McCrone review.
Education spokesman Tavish Scott MSP said: “Teachers should be at the very centre of efforts to strengthen Scotland’s education system and close the attainment gap.
“Recent research, however, shows that 70% of Scotland’s teachers do not feel valued and only a minority would recommend the career to others.
“As the new term approaches there are almost 700 teaching vacancies in our schools and the first national strike over pay in a generation is on the cards.
“The SNP asked to be judged on education and they have fallen well short.
“That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats are committing to put our trust in Scotland’s teachers to restore Scottish education and make it the best again.
“This is a clear and innovative plan for making sure teachers are in a position to give every child the best possible education.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We value teachers highly and are providing £112 million this year to fund councils to maintain teacher numbers, including the last teacher pay award. SNCT pay negotiations for 2018-19 are underway for teachers and we continue to play our part in those discussions.
“This Government is the first in the UK to lift the 1% public sector pay cap.
“We have also taken action to reduce teacher workload by clarifying and simplifying the curriculum and removing unnecessary bureaucracy. Our education reforms seek to create new opportunities for teachers, in partnership with the teaching profession, to develop their careers.”