Concern as Aberdeenshire primary teachers drafted into secondary schools to tackle shortage

15/05/2024
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr

PRIMARY teachers are having to be drafted into secondary schools across Aberdeenshire to help deal with “chronic” teacher shortages, it has been revealed.

New figures show for the upcoming 2024/25 school year, Aberdeenshire Council has requested 44 newly qualified secondary teachers but has only been allocated 20, with fears this may be lower by the start period in August.

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The “deeply worrying” number means at some schools, subjects have had to be removed from the curriculum as staff numbers in Maths, English, Home Economics and Technical remain well below the requested level. This has prompted schools across the region to look to teacher specialists based at primary to cover literacy and numerary classes in S1 to S3.

In an email to Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr, director of education and children’s services Laurence Findlay said that senior leaders in schools are spending an “unacceptable” amount of time covering classes and vacancies resulting in “serious workload concerns”.

The council added that it has been exploring whether there could be a manual allocation of preference waiver teachers for Aberdeenshire in a bid to boost staff numbers. It is hoped this would attract teachers who haven’t asked to be allocated to a specific local authority but are happy to be placed anywhere in the country.

In his update, Mr Findlay called for a review of initial teacher education, which would include an overhaul of the teacher induction scheme (TIS).

Liam Kerr said: “It’s completely unacceptable that our rural schools in Aberdeenshire and throughout Scotland are suffering the consequences of ill-considered, un-strategic policies under this Scottish Government.

“These teachers are vital to the future of the North East as well as our young people and losing them is bound to hamper literacy and numeracy levels, as well as limiting opportunities for pupils to learn foreign languages and technical skills.

“It’s deeply worrying that the shortage has become so chronic that Aberdeenshire Council has been left with no option but to ask specialists based at primary schools to help with S1 to S3 classes. The impact of shortages on our already hardworking teachers who already go above and beyond for our children will be considerable.

“Rural students deserve the same attention, resources, and funding from the Scottish Government as those in urban areas. However, it’s clear that teacher numbers are plummeting faster in Aberdeenshire than in other parts of the country and the SNP have abandoned the pitch when it comes to meaningful solutions to address the impact of their policies and choices.

“The Scottish Conservatives have proposed a New Deal for Teachers which runs alongside our Grasping the Thistle economic paper. Hopefully the SNP government finally takes notice and meaningful action so every child in Scotland has the same educational opportunities, regardless of where they live.”

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