SCOTTISH teachers are facing a bleak future with lower pay and cuts to jobs, a union leader has warned.

In an interview with The Herald, Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said the current climate of cuts was making teaching an unattractive career prospect.

And he called for new legislation from the Scottish Government to force councils to employ teachers, rather than lower qualified staff, in schools.

It comes after attempts by Renfrewshire Council to introduce visiting specialists into classrooms for some of the school week.

The McCormac report into teaching suggested the practice should be more widespread.

Mr Smith's comments cam after he announced his decision to step down as general secretary of the union next March – a post he has held since 1995.

"There are immediate concerns with a serious erosion of teachers' pay and additional pension contributions which are lowering the standard of living for teachers," he said.

"In addition, we have serious concerns over the number of jobs available to teachers and the virtual abandonment of any aspirations to do anything serious with class size limits is freeing the system up to make further reductions in teacher numbers.

"It all adds up to a picture of a profession under siege and if that is the case then you will not get the best out of staff and you will not get people wanting to join the profession."

Mr Smith called for moves to replace teachers for part of the week with unqualified staff to be resisted.

He said: "We are seeing this in nursery schools, in the further education sector and with the Renfrewshire experiment and through McCormac and it is all in a context of trying to reduce costs by diluting the quality of education.

"It is time for the Scottish Government to legislate to prevent the further erosion of the teaching profession by ensuring it is qualified professionals who are always at the forefront."