Concerns raised over teacher numbers

Councillor Charles Buchan.
Councillor Charles Buchan.

A Fraserburgh councillor has expressed his concerns over teacher numbers in Aberdeenshire primary and secondary schools.

Councillor Charles Buchan has said the problem is being raised at Parent Council and PTA meetings, such is the level of parent concern over their children’s education.

In a statement, Aberdeenshire Council said there are currently 101 vacancies in Aberdeenshire schools - but there are 3,100 teachers in the Shire, meaning the majority of posts are filled.

However, Cllr Buchan disputes the figures, suggesting the figure could be closer to 120 vacancies.

To help to address the problem, the Council has introduced the DLITE programme which aims to attract more graduate teachers to the North-east.

In addition, Cllr Buchan has also suggested that more needs to be done in terms of teacher housing as well as the creation of a new post of Subject Leader. The latter suggestion would see higher-paid posts created to help to retain staff in subjects where there is a shortage of teachers.

To try to address these issues, Cllr Buchan, along with Deeside councillor Geva Blackett, had a meeting with the then Cabinet Secretary for Education last November.

Cllr Buchan highlighted some of the teacher recruitment problems which schools are facing in the North-east, such as the high cost of housing and the availability of alternative and higher paid jobs.

Commenting, Cllr Charles Buchan said: “Many parents are becoming aware of the shortage of teachers in our schools, and are rightly worried about the effect on their children’s progress.

“Staffing issue discussions are frequently coming up at Parent Councils, and PTA meetings.

“The problem used to be confined to our Academies, especially in shortage subjects, such as Technical and Physics. However, it appears now that the primary schools are also finding it very difficult to fill posts, and are finding it almost impossible to attract both permanent and temporary staff.”

“Most primary schools in Fraserburgh and District are having to take emergency measures to avoid sending children home. Head Teachers are having to neglect their managerial and administrative duties, to take classes, Nursery Teachers are being pulled out of Nursery Departments to take Primary 1 classes, and much use is being made of staff who do not wish to work full-time, meaning lots of our children are seeing many different teachers during a week, with a resulting loss of continuity.”