Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils are spending more than £8million a year on supply teachers, new figures have revealed.
Local politicians accused the Scottish Government of failing to provide enough cash to councils to tackle staff shortages and bring permanent teachers to the north-east.
The region has had a long-standing problem when it comes to recruiting teachers with the high cost of living caused by the oil industry being blamed for the failure to attract public sector workers.
The cost of employing supply teachers in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire was uncovered by the Lib Dems through Freedom of Information legislation.
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Of the two local authorities, Aberdeenshire Council was the biggest spender on supply teachers, shelling out a total of £19.01m during the last three academic years.
In the same period, Aberdeen City Council spent £6.16m on supply staff to cover teacher vacancies. On average the two councils spent £8.39m every year between 2016-17 and 2018-19.
North East Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said: “Years of teacher shortages across Scotland has put a huge pressure on schools, especially in rural areas, and our local authorities have been forced to spend millions of pounds on supply staff just to get by.
“What make matters worse is that pupils’ choices, and therefore their ambitions, are being limited by the lack of permanent teachers.
“It comes as no surprise that Aberdeenshire, deprived of crucial resources by the SNP government, is struggling more than most to fill key teacher places.”
Councillor Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education Committee chairwoman, said: “Supply teachers play a vital role in ensuring children and young people in Aberdeenshire receive a great education when there are gaps required such as maternity cover or long-term illness.”
Councillor Mohammad Tauqeer Malik of Aberdeen City Council’s Education Committee said the Granite City was Scotland’s lowest funded council.
He added: “Supply teachers are vital and necessary given Aberdeen city council has been unable to recruit teachers to take up outstanding posts.
“We are committed to filling teacher posts, but this task is made harder annually by the Scottish government which fails to invest in our education system.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Overall, teacher numbers in Scottish schools are at their highest since 2010, but we recognise the teacher recruitment challenges.
“That’s why we’ve increased targets for recruitment into initial teacher education and created new routes to make it more practical and flexible for people to access courses.”