Heads warn of untaught classes

16th March 2001 at 00:00
The urgency of the Scottish Executive's planned teacher recruitment campaign was underlined this week with two separate warnings of a worsening supply crisis.

Gordon Mackenzie, president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, told its spring conference on Tuesday: "The crisis is now affecting all parts of the country and all subjects." And a paper to Aberdeen's education committee the same day detailed shortages in a number of subjects and difficulties with relief cover.

The situation will be exacerbated by the 4,000 extra posts demanded by the post-McCrone settlement, mainly in primary schools.

Mr Mackenzie told the conference, with leading members of HM Inspectorate sitting beside him: "Schools have embraced the improvement agenda. But it is difficult to improve and to raise standards when you can't get the teachers."

He knew of one maths department that should have 10 teachers but is three short and cannot fill the vacancies. "Think of the pressure that puts on the school," Mr Mackenzie said. "Think of the pressure that puts on other teachers in the department."

He added: "The situation is getting worse and it's getting worse at an alarming rate. Those who are makng decisions about schools must take account of that reality with which schools have to struggle."

In Aberdeen, which is experiencing recruitment problems in maths, design and technology, modern languages and drama, difficulties in finding relief cover mean the authority "has very little cover available for illness, vacancy or other absences".

The council's paper states: "Existing teachers of (shortage) subjects are continually juggling timetables and classes to ensure at least some subject teaching for pupils, and are spending time each day on induction of relief teachers who are not qualified in the subject and have been assigned for general cover. School senior management teams are teaching classes and then doing their other work in the evenings and at weekends."

Aberdeen warns that the crisis is leading to more exclusions "because the daily disruption to learning and teaching brings inconsistency and constant change".

The city now plans to advertise on buses, in cinemas and abroad. It will also try to entice teachers from other areas with relocation packages. All posts advertised will highlight the post-McCrone salary levels, which begin to take effect next month

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today