OFFICIALS who run Scotland's exams and curriculum should be sent back to school to learn about the realities facing the teaching profession, MSPs have said.

The Scottish Parliament's education committee made the recommendation in a report on teacher recruitment and training.

Earlier this year the committee heard evidence that teachers felt the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Education Scotland were "either inconsistent or distant".

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A report by the committee states: "To help remove this distance between certain public bodies and teachers, the committee recommends that Education Scotland and the SQA should commence a 'back to the classroom' exercise.

"This should include short placements in schools work shadowing a range of teachers. These teachers can provide the SQA and Education Scotland staff with a deeper understanding of the practical issues with some of the documentation they provide and the time required for teachers to complete the processes the SQA and Education Scotland set in place."

The committee also found that tackling falling pay rates and the workload facing teachers was "fundamental" to combating shortages.

And following concerns raised by trainees about the quality of literacy and numeracy training on some courses, the committee wants the government to investigate the extent of the issue and develop a baseline standard which new teachers could be tested against.

The report states: "This should include assessing baseline standards on all courses for student primary teachers. It should also include an assessment of the entry requirements for these courses and the standards achieved on qualification."

The committee also recommends offering financial incentives for teachers from elsewhere in the UK to move to deal with areas of "acute shortages", reintroducing a programme such as the chartered teacher scheme to give a boost in pay and status to experienced classroom teachers, and increasing localisation of workforce planning.

James Dornan, the committee convener, said: "Addressing the challenges facing existing teachers is fundamental to increasing the number of people who want to become a teacher.

"We are recommending reducing the box ticking elements of their roles, providing financial reward and status for classroom teachers, providing more promotion opportunities and setting manageable workloads for headteachers."

However, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) accused the committee of a "trivial" response to some concerns.

He said: "In places the report echoes current demands from the teacher unions - the need for better salaries and for enhanced careers pathways, but in other areas it seems disconnected from what is actually happening on schools.

"The notion of practical placements in schools for SQA and Education Scotland staff may appear to have a superficial attraction, but it is a shallow, and somewhat trivial, response to concerns about teacher workload and certainly no substitute for ensuring that teachers are able to exercise professional control over their working environment."

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "Teachers are seeing their pay squeezed more and more as earnings rise slower than the cost of living, while workloads continue to increase.

"That's why Labour wants to see an independent review of teachers' pay, conditions and career structure to re-establish the profession as world leading, and attract new teachers into classrooms."

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "I will study carefully the recommendations in this report, and I welcome its endorsement of the action this government is already taking to make a career in teaching more attractive and create innovative routes into the profession.

"Investment by this government has directly resulted in 253 more teachers last year and this week I announced the expansion of our teacher recruitment campaign, the first phase of which has already led to thousands more undergraduate students seriously considering teaching as a career at some point in the future."