New school fears staffing will be hit by housing shortage

28th February 1997 at 00:00
One of Scotland's newest and best equipped secondary schools is facing a shortage of staff because there is nowhere for them to live.

Kinlochbervie High on the north-west coast of Sutherland, opened by the Prince of Wales in 1995 at a cost of Pounds 3.3 million, says lack of housing for incoming staff will pose problems as the school expands.

It currently has 46 first to third-year pupils but the anticipated roll by 2003 is 110, when the school reaches six-year status. There are six full-time and seven part-time teachers.

Three of the existing staff are already in temporary accommodation. Bernard McDonald, a science teacher, had to move out of his house into a holiday home and says he is reluctantly thinking of leaving. Mr McDonald's wife and three primary-age children have returned to Aberdeen until the problem is resolved.

At a meeting of Kinlochbervie Community Council, George Doull, the council's chairman, who is also the school's janitor, asked why no new houses had been built when it was known that the new secondary would require additional staff.

Francis Keith, the local councillor, replied: "No new houses are being built anywhere by Highland Council. More council tenants are buying their houses. You can buy a council house for Pounds 15,000, but we are allowed to use only half of that for new housing. You can't build a house for Pounds 7,500."

Mr Keith said that teachers did not have a special case when young people looking for their first house also faced difficulties. He said that the three Kinlochbervie primary teachers made the 38-mile round trip from their homes in Durness every day, and suggested secondary teachers could do the same.

Allan Gilchrist, Highland's director of education, said that shortage of teacher housing had always been a problem, particularly on the west coast.

The only new accommodation provided in recent years is a three-bedroom flat built as part of a Pounds 250,000 primary on the island of Muck.

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