Aberdeen schools could be left to be led by underqualified teachers due to a shortage of “quality” head teacher candidates.
Council bosses have raised concerns the number of senior leadership team (SLT) vacancies could lead to staff “not of the required quality” climbing the career ladder.
Education chief Shona Milne says there are “very few applications for posts and the quality is not as high as would be expected”.
Councillors on the city education committee were briefed on the “serious risk” the shortage of senior teachers poses to Aberdeen schools.
And head teacher jobs have proven the most difficult to fill.
Top officials are finding people to take middle management roles currently.
Labour councillor Kate Blake said it was “obviously extremely concerning”.
In neighbouring Aberdeenshire, education director Laurence Findlay has warned of a ‘crisis’ in recruiting teachers to all 17 of its secondary schools.
How bad is Aberdeen’s head teacher shortage?
At the time of writing, there were no head teacher jobs advertised for Aberdeen schools on official listing site MyJobScotland.
There was a listing for a depute head at Harlaw Academy, as well as six departmental principal teacher vacancies across the city.
St Machar Academy, Bucksburn Academy and Oldmachar Academy also list senior vacancies.
The shortage of head teacher candidates in Aberdeen was explained as a knock-on effect of the Covid pandemic.
It had restricted the number of people moving away from Aberdeen during the uncertain times.
However, Ms Milne told councillors that since restrictions were lifted, some staff have seized the opportunity to travel and work elsewhere.
What is being done to find ‘quality’ head teachers for Aberdeen schools?
There is already a plan in place to end the Aberdeen head teacher shortage, to ensure a “pipeline” of prepared staff who are ready to take the lead at their school.
“We are trying build on leadership programmes that are very successful within the local authority,” Ms Milne said.
“And we are involving wider senior leadership teams in headteacher meetings in order to build capacity and help them to understand what the role entails.
“We are encouraging middle leaders to undertake their headship qualification when they are ready, rather than waiting to undertake it while in position of headship because it is a big undertaking.
“It is about developing the capability and capacity within the middle leadership to push it into the headship role.”
Meanwhile frustrated parents have suggested ways of seeking out new talent to fill the void.
They suggested that the fortnight-long period teachers have to apply for SLT roles could be made longer.
Primary and ASN parent rep on the education committee Frances Cardno said: “If you are trying to external applicants, then they have to consider all aspects of moving their family.
“Two weeks is very short to do that.”
Ms Milne said extending the window to three or four weeks was “certainly something we could look at”.
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‘Tactical’ head teacher job ads in Aberdeen not at fault, boss states
Meanwhile her superior, children and family services director Eleanor Sheppard, was less open to the suggestion the council drags it feet on advertising roles.
Describing it as a “fairly rapid, slick process”, she did admit sometimes being dictated to by the calendar.
“We sometimes we do have to take into account what else is going on.
“For example, you wouldn’t want to be pushing out an advert just prior to a holiday period, because we want people to see it.
“So there sometimes are tactics at play in trying to make sure the advert attracts the maximum number of applicants.”