Scots teachers are 'dangerously overstretched' by vacancies

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Image caption The Liberal Democrats said pupils faced the prospect of going back to school without a dedicated teacher

There were more than 500 teacher vacancies in Scotland's schools as pupils returned after their summer break, figures have shown.

A freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats showed 254 primary teacher vacancies and 287 for secondary schools as of 9 August.

The Scottish government said the figures represented just over 1% of the total workforce.

The area with the highest vacancy rate was Aberdeen with 86 vacancies.

This was followed by the Borders at 47.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott said teachers would be "dangerously overstretched" unless action was taken to address the shortages.

'Increase pressure'

His party has called for a penny increase in income tax in order to raise money for education spending.

He said: "Thousands of pupils faced the prospect of going back to school without a dedicated class teacher in place.

"This can only increase pressure on other teachers and make life more difficult for those pupils who need the most support."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said ministers wanted the "right number of teachers with the right skills" .

She added: "Where there is an issue, this tends to be in specific areas where local factors, such as house prices, can be an important part of the problem.

"We are spending £88m this year to make sure every school has access to the right number of teachers."

The spokeswoman said that teacher vacancies arose across Scottish local authorities "continuously throughout the year".

She said in the time since the figures were compiled many of the vacancies would have been filled.

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