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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) [Draft]

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Medication Assisted Treatment and Workforce Update, Moveable Transactions (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Point of Order, Moveable Transactions (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Business Motion, Motion without Notice, Decision Time, Free Rail Travel (Blind and Partially Sighted People and Companions)


Point of Order

Stephen Kerr (Central Scotland) (Con)

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I seek your guidance on a matter of procedure in relation to scrutiny of the Government. I would like to understand what the options are for me, as a member of the Parliament, to bring ministers to the chamber in order to scrutinise them.

This morning, the Scottish Government released statistics that show a sustained reduction in the number of teachers in Scottish schools. They show that the numbers are down by 92 since last year, despite an increase in the school population of 1,151 pupils. There is a great deal to unpack in those figures and in the other figures that were released this morning but, in essence, class sizes are up and teacher numbers are down.

In 2007, there were 55,100 teachers in schools, in comparison with 54,193 today, despite an increase in the number of pupils from 692,215 to 705,874. There is definitely an issue there that deserves the scrutiny of the Parliament. It is calling out for scrutiny.

There are—[Interruption.] There are consequences of the reduction in teacher numbers: for pupils, as they seek to make subject choices for the future; for parents, who are uncertain of the size of the class that their children will go into; and for teachers, who are stressed as a result of high workloads and whose morale has been sapped by the failure of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to get to grips with their justifiable concerns, which has led to the current industrial action.

Presiding Officer, I ask you to advise me on how we can ensure that the matters in the summary statistics—[Interruption.] I know that the Scottish National Party members do not like to talk about these things, but they are important matters for our consideration. I seek the Presiding Officer’s guidance. How can we ensure that the matters arising from those summary statistics for schools in Scotland can be addressed in full in the chamber? How can I, as a member, bring the cabinet secretary to the chamber and question her on these important matters, as our constituents would expect?

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

Thank you, Mr Kerr.

I remind members that, under rule 8.17,

“A member may in any proceedings question whether proper procedures have been or are being followed by making a point of order.”

I would be grateful if members could keep that at the forefront of their minds in any contribution.

I say to Mr Kerr that there are many opportunities across the week, and there are different mechanisms that he may use, to put questions to the Scottish Government.