Byline: JAMIE LIVINGSTONE
HALF of Scotland's local authorities are now employing fewer primary teachers than they were in 1999 despite a [pounds sterling]2.15billion investment.
Sixteen of the country's 32 councils have cut staff numbers, even though the McCrone pay deal reduces the time each teacher will spend with pupils.
From next term, teachers' time in class is to be cut by an hour to only 22.5 hours per week. Five years ago teachers spent 25 hours a week with pupils.
When the McCrone deal was struck it was estimated that an extra 1,700 primary teachers would be needed to compensate for the shorter hours spent in class by each teacher.
But new figures show a fraction of that number - 229 - have been recruited in the last six years.
I t means headteachers increasingly cover classes to allow teachers to fulfil their McCrone commitments.
The deal promised teachers more time to conduct staff meetings and also pursue 'professionaldevelopment'and ' curriculum development'.
Councils which have cut teacher numbers include those in Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh.
In Glasgow, there are 175 fewer teachers.
The SNP, which disclosed the figures, accused the Scottish Executive of failing to follow through on its promises and warned that children's education was suffering.
Education spokesman Fiona Hyslop described the figures as 'disappointing' and added: 'The McCrone agreement was meant to see another 1,700 teachers recruited but it appears that hasn't happened in large areas of Scotland.
' More teachers are being recruited but we are not seeing more in the classroom. …