A north-east head teacher who put her job on hold to go back into the classroom due to staffing shortages has said she would do the same again – despite a poor inspection report.
Viki Cameron believes recruitment issues in the Peterhead cluster area are at “crisis point” and urged Aberdeenshire Council to take action.
Ms Cameron is the head of Port Errol Primary in Cruden Bay, but decided to put those duties to one side last year to protect her pupils’ learning.
As a result, inspectors entered a school where the administration had “slipped greatly”.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
The inspectors were following up on a visit in August 2016 where three areas of improvement had been identified: increasing the pace of curriculum development; meeting individual needs; and developing robust systems of self-evaluation.
Their report after the December 2018 visit, however, found there had been “insufficient progress” made.
Now Ms Cameron has gone before local councillors to defend the report – and said she would make the same decision again if it gave the youngsters at her school some “stability”.
She told the Buchan area committee: “I had been working five days a week in class which meant all of the administrative tasks connected with a head teacher hadn’t been undertaken.
“That was because I had made the decision, and I take full personal responsibility, to ensure that all of our classes had a full-time teacher.
“If I had to go back to the end of June last year and remake that decision, I wouldn’t change it at all. It is important for children to have that stability.”
Aberdeenshire Council is now working with attainment officers to develop a “robust monitoring and tracking system” to make sure learning is based on a wide range of evidence and include aspirational target setting.
Ms Cameron hopes the school will be in a better position next year, and that council chiefs can help with the recruitment “crisis” faced by schools in the region.
She said: “It is not a situation particular to Port Errol school at all, but it is an issue across Aberdeenshire.
“I am aware the education department have taken great measures in order to try and alleviate the recruitment crisis that Aberdeenshire seems to be in at the moment.
“I’m hoping that makes a difference in August for all the Peterhead cluster schools, so they can see themselves in a better staffing position so we are able to concentrate on helping the learning of children in our care.”
Former music teacher and councillor Stephen Calder said Ms Cameron should have been given more support as soon as it became apparent when the school was struggling.
He said: “Teaching staff and particular head teachers are put under a lot of pressure when it comes to covering administrations duties.
“But it is more important to be teaching the pupils and covering these classes.”
Peterhead South and Cruden councillor Alan Fakley praised Ms Cameron’s “candour” and pledged his backing for her.
He said: “I fully support her motives and will try to assist Ms Cameron to receive all the support she needs in addressing these issues.”