Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Island council issues rallying cry for more teachers needed to fill unexpected vacancies

Shetland Island Council has issued a plea for help
Shetland Island Council has issued a plea for help

Shetland Islands Council is calling for out-of-work teachers to help fill short-notice posts across the islands.

Staff absences and unfilled vacancies are contributing to a greater need for temporary, short-notice substitutes at primary and secondary levels.

Despite recent successes in filling long-vacant head teaching posts, the council has struggled to recruit teachers.

According to statistics from December, Shetland employs 119 supply teachers in their relief bank. These supply staff help support the islands’ 402 primary, secondary and nursery teachers.

Who can help?

Robin Calder, executive manager for quality improvement in the council’s children’s services department said that applicants must already be registered with the General Teaching Council (GTCS), or willing to re-register.

Fair Isle landscape
Fair Isle recently filled a vacant post for a head teacher at the local primary school–the UK’s most remote. Supplied by Shetland Islands Council

She added that because of the flexible nature of the work, the council is open to a variety of applicants.

“We are appealing to anyone suitably qualified, whether they have many years of teaching experience or may be a recently qualified teacher, or a flexible route probationer.

“We can also advise on the process of re-registering with the GTCS.”

She said that joining the relief bank will help the council fill sudden absences.

What is the situation?

Remote and rural schools in the Highlands and Islands have long struggled to recruit teachers.

Shetland Islands Council recently found a new head teacher for Ollaberry Primary School. Last October, Jean Harlow signed on to fill the role that was vacant for almost two years. The council also reported success at the end of 2021, filling the vacant head teacher position at the UK’s most remote primary school on Fair Isle.

Ollaberry Primary School outdoor learning setting.
Ollaberry Primary School recently ended it’s two-year search for a new head teacher. Supplied by Shetland Islands Council.

Despite recent rises in Covid-19 related staff absences across the north and north-east, Shetland has largely avoided having to close schools due to staff shortages.

But drawing new teachers to the islands is still difficult. And a council spokesperson has said that it can be hard to fill vacancies at remote schools even using the existing relief bank.

“When applying to become a supply teacher the candidate has the option to put preferred locations in Shetland.

“Although we have a reasonable list of relief staff, it can sometimes be quite problematic to cover absences in the more remote locations in Shetland.”

According to statistics obtained via a Freedom of Information request, Shetland Islands Council employs 402 teachers. These permanent staff members are supported by 119 supply teachers. These staff members help fill vacancies at nursery, primary and secondary levels.

How to register for the relief bank

More information about the positions is available on MyJobScotland. Pay ranges from £18.09 to £26.55 per hour. Any candidates will have to join the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.

The hours of work will be as and when required, at different teaching locations across Shetland.

Read more from the Schools & Family team

‘We want school to be fun again’: A day in a teacher’s life during a pandemic

‘If you can’t get connected, it’s no use’: Island education boss on Covid internet struggles for pupils

‘We just want what’s best for our children’: Why is it so hard to recruit teachers to our islands?

Already a subscriber? Sign in