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Teacher recruitment crisis climbs to historic levels as Scottish Government urged to step in

City council education convener Angela Taylor at Hanover School in Aberdeen. See story on staff shortage.
Picture by COLIN RENNIE
City council education convener Angela Taylor at Hanover School in Aberdeen. See story on staff shortage. Picture by COLIN RENNIE

Shock new figures show a “record” number of teacher vacancies in schools across Aberdeen since the start of the term- but they have tumbled in Aberdeenshire.

There are currently 137 vacancies in the Granite City, including 13 primary school heads, up from 93 at the start of term in August.

But Aberdeenshire council have slashed unfilled posts since the start of August from 87 to just 45.

Last night angry city council chiefs said they had “bent over backwards” to recruit more teachers into the Granite City- and urged first minister Nicola Sturgeon to put aside an independence referendum and “get back to the day job”.

But the opposition SNP group hit back that with falling vacancies in the ‘shire, the city authority had “serious questions” to answer about its own lack of hiring.

Last month, education secretary John Swinney announced a £3million funding boost to train 371 teachers across Scotland.

It has been one of a number of high profile drives to tackle the historic problem, including a re-training fund for oil and gas workers to get them into the classrooms and subsidised housing.

But north-east Conservative MSP Ross Thomson said: “Aberdeen has tried just about everything to attract teachers to this area, and we have said repeatedly that we need more support from the Scottish government.

“People want to see the government focus on the bread and butter issues like education, health and the economy, not drag us back to more constitutional chaos.”

Council education convener Angela Taylor said: “There is a shortfall of 137 teachers in Aberdeen – this is the worst figure we have ever seen.

“Aberdeen City Council has worked tirelessly to overturn this situation, offering reduced price accommodation, a ‘golden hello’ of £5,000, and a relocation package of up to £7,500.

“(The Scottish government) announced plans to double child care provision yet our officials have heard nothing from ministers about the plans to take this forward. It’s the same with the attainment gap.

“And to top it all off – we see record teacher shortages in Aberdeen schools and the Scottish government pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

“I’m delighted Aberdeenshire has made inroads into the problem but they, of course, do not face the same pressures around cost of living as we do in the city.

“We are one of Britain’s most expensive places to live which puts many people off coming here.”

But SNP education spokesman at the city council Alex Nicoll said the new figures were “very concerning”.

He said: “The cost of living in Aberdeen has been falling in recent years so it is very concerning that the teacher numbers appear to be rising.

“If Aberdeenshire can manage to recruit teachers then you have to ask why the city council can’t?

“To me this seems absolutely unacceptable and the administration should maybe tone down their rhetoric on the Scottish Government and look to solve the problem themselves.”

Aberdeenshire education committee member Ron McKail said: “We have had long running issues with the likes of the cost of property and a relatively high cost of living based on historically high wages.

“From my perspective, the solution is about councils and government working together.”

A spokeswoman for the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union, said:  “Attracting teachers to some parts of the country – for example rural or remote areas or areas with a lack of affordable housing – is an ongoing challenge for a number local authorities.

“While pay and conditions for teachers will continue to be agreed nationally through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, it is open to local authorities to explore additional incentives or other means of attracting qualified teachers to come and work in their schools.”

Scot Gov

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