Councils bid to attract new staff from England

pound;5K cash bonuses on offer to entice disaffected teachers from the south

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Scottish councils are offering cash bonuses and targeting disaffected teachers in England in a bid to tackle teacher shortages, TESS can reveal.

Aberdeen City Council last week approved cash bonuses of up to pound;5,000 to teachers to relocate to the city as the authority attempts to tackle what it calls an "extremely challenging" staffing situation.

The scheme - which is also open to Scots - will hand new teachers pound;5,000 to work in the city - pound;3,000 at first, with a further pound;2,000 if they stay for three years. A total of pound;260,000 has been approved by the council for the scheme - enough to cover the 52 posts currently unfilled in the city, most of which are in primaries.

In an English advert for the posts, Gayle Gorman, Aberdeen's director of education, culture and sport - who recently made the move from England to Scotland - talks about "the wonderful new curriculum in Scotland", describing the Scottish system as "education led" which, she says, allows the sector to "remain true to its principles".

Ms Gorman's message to English teachers highlighting the benefits of the Scottish system and of Aberdeen - which she describes as "a beautiful and inspiring city" - comes as teachers in England prepare to strike in October over pay and pensions.

It also follows the publication of a revised national curriculum down south, which England's largest teaching union, the NASUWT, has described as "narrow" and Michael Gove's "personal ideological crusade".

Even Scotland's inspection process comes in for praise: Ms Gorman describes the approach taken as "refreshing" and "collaborative and supportive".

Teachers willing to make the move to Aberdeen will be offered up to pound;7,500 in "standard relocation expenses", with some also eligible for the cash incentive scheme on top of that.

Aberdeenshire and Highland councils are also offering "generous" relocation packages to teachers willing to come and work in their areas. In Aberdeenshire, up to pound;8,000 is on offer, depending on moving expenses.

Scottish Borders Council is considering targeting "disaffected English teachers" in a bid to fill posts, said Yvonne McCracken, head of schools.

"Given our geographical location we should be attracting more teachers from England," she said. "While the curriculum is quite different, good teaching and learning is the same no matter where you are from."

The Borders is struggling to fill promoted posts but soon ordinary teaching jobs will also prove problematic, Ms McCracken said.

"It will be galling for newly qualified teachers who have not got a job to read that we are struggling for teachers, but posts come up throughout the school year, as people move, become ill or simply leave, and it's those we will struggle to fill."

In recent times, headlines in the Scottish press have bemoaned a surplus of teachers, with articles focusing on the struggle to find work faced by many new recruits. But over the past year, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, John Stodter, general secretary of the directors' body ADES, told TESS.

According to Mr Stodter, Scotland needs 10 per cent more teachers than it has teaching posts in order to make sure cover is available for staff development and sickness. At the moment, the figure is closer to 6 per cent, he said.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "The Scottish government has increased the number of student teacher places by 670 in the past two years and we are working closely with councils, which are responsible for recruitment, to make sure that we have enough teachers to meet the demands of primary and secondary schools across the country."

Emma Seith,


Extract from Gayle Gorman's message to English teachers:

"I was worried about the different education approaches, curriculum and changes since leaving Scotland more than 20 years ago - but education remains constant wherever you are - and the wonderful new curriculum in Scotland encourages innovation, risk-taking and creativity. The system is `education led' and this has enabled the sector to remain true to its principles."

Photo credit: Alamy

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