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Large number of teaching places left vacant for start of new school year in Scotland

ByMei Futonaka

Oct 11, 2016

As the new school term commenced for students across many primary and secondary schools in Scotland, 729 teaching spots were left vacant.

Concentrated teacher shortage figures were especially high throughout the North-East, with up to 86 vacancies in Aberdeen, 43 in Aberdeenshire and 44 in Moray.

Kate Adams, a spokesperson for The General Teaching Council (GTC) for Scotland, spoke with The Student on the roots that may well have shaped this unfortunate phenomenon.

“Resolving the shortage of teacher numbers is a challenge being addressed by a range of partner organisations led by the Scottish Government. It is not the responsibility of the General Teaching Council for Scotland but clearly we support a resolution being found quickly,” Adams said.

She continued to explain that lack of interest in teaching careers are due to a number of factors, including geography and economy: “It is harder to attract teachers to rural areas. It can also be difficult to attract teachers to places where the cost of living is high.”

Adams also mentioned the fact that some subjects are harder to staff with teachers than others, and that media perception and public attitude towards the profession of teaching has not helped the shortage.

“There are also well publicised shortages of teachers in certain subjects, such as the so-called STEM subjects,” she said.

“There is also an unfortunate negativity about teaching reflected in the media and other places that wrongly suggests teaching is an unattractive career.”

However Adams assured that the GTC have been working to try and solve the issue of understaffed schools across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is looking at ways to tackle these issues and a key task for everyone with the best interests of learning and teaching at heart is to work to encourage positivity around the profession and the crucial role it plays in growing and improving our society,” Adams said.

Labour MSP for the North-East, Jenny Marra, spoke to the Scottish this past week, insisting on the extreme situations that the schools in the region have been left to face and the implications of it.

“Dundee suffered chronic teacher shortages last year. This year, vacancies are in primary schools exclusively in the most deprived areas of our city. Council officials tell me that there is significant under-recruitment to teacher training,” she said on the floor.

However, First Minister and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon reassured that her administration was taking significant procedures in combating the situation.

She explained that the Government has provided funding to Local Authorities to maintain the number of teachers, and that they will continue to “work hard to make sure that [they] are getting the right number of teachers into schools.”


Image: Todd Petrie

By Mei Futonaka

News Editor 3rd year International Relations student

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