NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Recruiting teachers 'a wider issue'

Children in class

Aberdeen is not the only part of Scotland to warn of difficulties recruiting teachers.

Other parts of the north east, Highlands and Islands and rural areas, including Dumfries and Galloway, have found difficulty filling posts.

The problems and issues are not simple and straightforward.

Nationally, there is an agreed number of places available in teacher training. The funding deal between councils and the Scottish government commits councils to maintaining teacher numbers.

In general, the problem is not so much the number of people who are qualified to teach across Scotland as the number of people who may want to work in some parts of the country.

By implication, there are people in some parts of central Scotland who would rather be supply teachers or work on fixed-term contracts than take up permanent posts in some other areas.

In Aberdeen and parts of the north east, the higher cost of living is an issue.

Geographical isolation

In some other areas, the issue may be geographical isolation or encouraging young people who left as teenagers to begin university to return home.

Some councils have schemes to help attract teachers - for instance offering them free or low-cost housing for a few months like Moray - or even encouraging suitably-qualified staff to train as teachers.

Potential long-term solutions include schemes to encourage more people from particular areas to become teachers in the hope that they may go on to teach in their own area.

There is also the issue of just who can teach in Scotland.

To teach in a state school, a person has to be registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland.

It specifies what qualifications and experience candidates from outside Scotland need to have - about 350 people from outside Scotland register each year.

One particular issue recently involved graduates from south of the border who had "learned on the job" rather than obtained a recognised qualification as a teacher.

The GTCS is piloting a flexible approach in Moray which allows provisional registration while people undergo "top-up" training.

However, in general, the unions would be concerned if any attempt were made to use teacher shortages as a justification for relaxing entry requirements into the profession.

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