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Supply shortage curbs CfE

A shortage of supply teachers is hampering the development of Curriculum for Excellence in one of Scotland's largest local authorities.

Highland Council has appointed CfE development officers in health and well-being, maths, science, social subjects, technology and PE. But it has not been able to appoint full-time development officers in artmusic, English, modern languages or support for learners, because of a "lack of supply to cover staff out on secondment", said Calum MacSween, head of education.

The shortage was also having an impact on subject development groups, he said in a report to the adult and children's services committee last month.

Jim Sutherland is head of Lochaber High in Fort William, where a quarter of the school was recently struck down by a "nasty bug".

Subject-specific supply teachers were "very thin on the ground", with the school depending heavily on retired teachers "good enough to help out", he said.

"We're still managing to deliver the service ... but, on some occasions, it is really difficult to get a teacher in front of every class."

The cut in pay to short-term supply teachers - part of the 2011 teachers' agreement - has largely been blamed for difficulties in covering teacher shortages and Mr Sutherland concurred with this analysis.

Supply pay is currently being discussed by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers and the body is examining the results of a survey it commissioned on supply difficulties.

A boost in the number of places on PGDE courses for primary teachers' revealed in TESS last week, could provide some relief. From the autumn, 370 new places are to be made available.

emma.seith@tess.co.uk.

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