New figures have laid bare the extent of the teacher recruitment crisis in Moray after it emerged it took nearly two years to fill one headteacher’s post.
Education chiefs last night insisted they are doing all they can to attract the “right” applicants to the region to maintain standards at schools.
Over the last few years, the authority has struggled to attract key workers such as teachers and healthcare professionals to the area due to the cost of living and the seemingly remote locations.
According to the figures, obtained using freedom of information legislation, it took 22 months to find a head teacher for Kinloss Primary.
The job was first advertised in January 2017, but the role was only permanently awarded in November 2018.
Cullen Primary faced similar problems, with the post advertised three times from August 2018 before finally being filled last month.
Currently, there are three vacant head teacher posts at Elgin Academy and Keith and Applegrove primaries.
Sonya Warren, chairwoman of the authority’s children’s and young people committee, last night insisted officials were doing all they can to tackle the vacancies.
General teaching vacancies fell from 275 in 2017 to 225 in 2018.
Ms Warren suggested imaginative ways of attracting staff, such as a video highlighting the beauty of the region, were paying off.
She said: “Council staff are working very hard to fill the posts and most of the headteacher roles have been filled.
“All of these schools are great schools, most of them with excellent reports so its all about finding the right people for the right posts.
“Timing and circumstance is also an issue for them but officers are working very hard with the headteacher situation and trying to fill these posts.
“It is interesting to see teachers outwith Moray coming in as well and we are in a positive position, with staff providing dividends for the authority by filling most roles successfully.”
Forres councillor and former teacher George Alexander said it was important the jobs were filled by the right candidate to uphold standards, rather than being rushed into the wrong choice.
He said: “These delays in hiring is not for want of trying as if the applicants aren’t out there its difficult to do anything about.
“We are trying to alleviate the situation by combining school heads in some primary schools but that would be impossible to do for Elgin Academy.
“It’s very disappointing for Elgin Academy and it needs to be asked about why no one wants to step up but this is not just a Moray problem.
“If you don’t get good applicants, you must take the time to fill it with someone of good standard so we don’t lower the standards of the schools.
“A lot of things need to be sorted education-wise in Moray and it is down to the councillors to do that.”