SCOTLAND’s newly-qualified teachers have warned they will seek alternative careers if they cannot be taken on to help schools return next term with a blended learning model due to a lack of funding. 

The Scottish Government’s controversial plans involve pupils returning to classes on August 11 with part of their time physically in schools and the rest being taught remotely at home, but the strategy has now come under fire from within their own party.  

In a letter to Education Secretary John Swinney, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have warned that “a whole batch of enthusiastic NQTs find ourselves unemployed” and that “some NQTs face no other option but to seek employment opportunity beyond the teaching profession”.  

It adds: “There has been a lot of media attention around the need for teachers in response to Covid-19 and discussions around reaching out to retired teachers.  

“Given the risk attached to that age category and the fact that we have already adapted to blended and virtual learning models – does it not seem more logical to utilise us?” 

READ MORE: SNP politician labels Scottish Government blended learning plans 'absolutely unacceptable'

Appearing at Holyrood’s education committee, Carrie Lindsay, president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), said: “There’s a difference between what we would take as a permanent post at this point in time and what we would take in terms of supply.  

“We may need people now if we’ve got children in smaller groupings, that we’re not going to need in the future. There may well be a number of temporary positions that will be offered to NQTs. I know a lot of local authorities are looking at doing that.  

“We will be starting to look at what would be the case if we had more finance to be able to take on the NQTs.” 

But Labour education secretary, Iain Gray, warned that “at a time when we are trying to bring our pupils back maybe only 50 per cent of the time, these are newly qualified, enthusiastic, motivated teachers who we’re turning away”. 

READ MORE: Thousands of former teachers asked to help implement ‘blended’ schooling

Ross Greer, Scottish Greens education spokesperson, added: “We already had a shortage of teachers in Scotland – there already weren’t enough teachers, there were acute issues in certain subjects and primary class sizes being too big. That was before we were faced with this situation of blended learning and a significantly increased need for teachers.  

“Newly qualified teachers aren’t being recruited for permanent positions because councils, despite needing them, don’t know if they will have the money to pay them until the Government  can confirm what this extra resource will be.” 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated in recent days that the blended model, the only strategy schools and councils are working to, is a “contingency plan”. 

Ms Sturgeon indicated that NQTs have an important role to play in schools returning. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon told to stop 'dithering' on schools plan as blended learning could be scrapped

She said: “Whether it’s education or anything else right now, we need all of our resources, all of our talents, all of our skills to get the country through this – so we will want to utilise that in education just as we will anywhere else.“ 

She added: “We want to also try to see if the conditions can be created in Scotland for not having to have a model of blended learning but with having children back in school normally. The reason we need to work through that is because part of that will involved making sure the virus is still under control and how we have that different model. That is what the Scottish Government is doing right now and I hope that is a model we can see develop.  

“We want children to be back in school normally.” 

But former SNP health secretary Alex Neil has blasted his party’s approach to schools returning. 

Speaking at Holyrood’s education committee, he said: “I’m a grandfather and my grandchildren have just been told they’re going to get, from August 11, one and half days a week in school for the indefinite future.   

“I personally, and their parents, regard that as absolutely unacceptable – that is not good quality education, it’s not blending education, it’s bleeding education. Surely we can do far better than that for our children.”   

Stephen McCabe, the co-chairman of the Scottish Government’s education recovery group warned it is “impossible for us to provide full time education” with the two-metre social distancing rule”.  

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He added: “If the Scottish Government offered councils a blank cheque and said, it doesn’t matter what it costs, go out there and double the school estate, get every child back to school full time with face-to-face learning in August, based on two-metre social distancing, we couldn’t do it.”    

Mr Neil also accused councils of “not actually try to overcome” constraints including building capacity.  

He said: “We are looking at the moment as if Scotland is potentially going to be the only one of the four nations in the UK not planning for or at least trying to get a full time return to school in August. That’s not good enough.”