Local council could face fine over teacher numbers

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green councillors have spoken out against the possibility of the local authority being fined by the Scottish Government over teacher numbers.

Defending the efforts being made, Democratic Independent councillor Paul Johnston said: “A fine would be unfair and pointless.

“Aberdeenshire Council is doing all it can to recruit teachers, using a wide range of traditional and novel approaches to recruitment.

“The factors underlying the difficulty in recruiting teachers for Aberdeenshire schools, such as the high cost of homes in the North East, are beyond the council’s control.”

And Green Councillor Martin Ford believes that a fine is only justified if the council were not trying..

He said: “If the difficulty in getting enough teachers was because the council wasn’t making the effort, then the threat of a fine might act as an incentive to do more.

“But that is not the case. The council is being extremely proactive on its own account addressing the need for teachers,” he said.

However, the Scottish Government have claimed that they look to work progressively with the local authority.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the opportunity to engage with local authorities to discuss potential further action to address the issue of teacher recruitment.

“We are committed to ensuring schools have the right number of teachers with with the right skills.

“That is why we acted to safeguard teacher posts for the next year by committing a £51 million package of funding for Scotland’s local authorities to maintain teacher numbers and pupil teacher ratios at 2014 levels in 2015-2016,” they said.