SNP presiding over ‘crisis’ in education as teacher posts unfilled, say Lib Dems

Scottish Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott (PA Wire)


A HIGH school has advertised six times for an English teacher, prompting fresh claims the government is presiding over a “crisis” in education.

Aberdeenshire Council has advertised the post at Peterhead Academy on half a dozen occasions since July 2017 – but has so far received just two applications, data released following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed.

As of November 10, the authority had 47 vacant teaching posts that had been advertised between two and six times.

Meanwhile Stirling Council had a vacancy for a home economics teacher at Bannockburn High School since January 2016 that had been advertised three times – with no responses received to the first two adverts and only one application from the third.

The Liberal Democrats, who asked Scotland’s councils about the number of teaching posts that were vacant and had had to be re-advertised, said the situation was very worrying.

Education spokesman Tavish Scott spoke out after the party revealed 2,275 teaching jobs were re-advertised in the three years between 2014-15 and 2016-17.

In 2016-17 alone, 1,004 teaching posts had to be re-advertised, the Lib Dems said.

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Figures based on responses from 27 of Scotland’s 32 authorities showed that in November 169 teaching jobs in Scotland had been advertised on more than one occasion.

In September the head teacher at Edinburgh’s Trinity Academy asked parents if they could help out after a “national shortage” in mathematics teachers meant it could not fill two posts.

Mr Scott said: “It is very worrying for schools that teaching posts are being advertised four, five and even six times.

“The data published by Liberal Democrats reveals that it is increasingly common for councils to advertise and not receive a single reply.

“An Edinburgh school has already asked parents for help in finding it a maths teacher. More schools and parents may face a similar requirement.”

Mr Scott said the situation meant some probationer teachers were “being asked to provide classroom cover when they were meant to be undertaking professional development” to help them gain their full teaching qualification.

He added: “Support for learning teachers are routinely covering whole classes instead of giving the specialist, personalised support that their pupils need.

“Head teachers are phoning around supply lists but are finding there simply isn’t anyone available.

“Many heads are teaching classes. Quite when the government believes they have time for greater responsibilities is beyond most people in education.”

The MSP went on: “There are 500 extra teachers in our schools this year. But that only begins to reverse the 4,000 teacher jobs lost since the SNP became the government 10 years ago.

“The SNP Government must face up to the crisis that they are presiding over.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we recognise some areas have faced challenges filling vacancies.

“This is why we have invested £88 million in 2017, resulting in 543 more teachers than last year – the second year in a row that there’s been an increase in teacher numbers.

“In Aberdeenshire, the number of teachers increased this year to 2,675 – the highest in over five years.

“We have taken decisive action to help recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign, focusing specifically on attracting new teachers and career changers into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and other subjects.”