Send trainee teachers to rural schools to tackle teacher shortages

Stock image of a classroom
Stock image of a classroom

Classroom shortages which have plagued the north and north-east for years could be eased under proposals to send trainee teachers to understaffed countryside schools.

A government body has proposed that trainee teachers should spend up to two years in rural classrooms in order to tackle the recruitment crisis in parts of the country.

Seamus Searson, a member of the government’s Strategic Board for Teacher Education (SBTE), said the organisation was considering the proposal as it published a document acknowledging the challenges caused by teacher shortages in rural areas.

Mr Searson, who is also Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) General Secretary, said:  “There has been discussion along the lines of everyone doing their probationary period, which could be longer than one year, having to spend at least a year or two years in a rural setting.

“They would gain experience of having to be in a small school where they would be expected to have to do far more than they would in a larger school.

“It would be beneficial to them because it would give them more opportunities.

“It is not necessarily the golden bullet, but it would make a big difference. We know that if people do go to a rural setting there is a big chance they won’t come back.”

Ms Searson also said the idea of more experienced teachers going on secondment to rural areas was also being explored, although he acknowledged that the proposals would have to be paid for.

Peter Chapman MSP.

SBTE papers, published yesterday by the Scottish Government, said there was an “increasing challenge” to recruit and retain staff in rural settings.

The documents noted shortages had led to the mothballing of Longhaven School in Peterhead.

They also said there should be more emphasis on professional development for rural teachers.

The report recommended an increase in digital training methods, given that island teachers taking time off for courses could lead to schools being closed for up to three days.

North East Tory MSP, Peter Chapman, said: “Rural communities are being let down by this SNP government’s failures on teacher recruitment.

“More school closures could follow unless chronic teacher recruitment issues are solved.

“That will require the SNP government to do more to work with education authorities to attract more teachers to some of the most beautiful parts of the country.”