Russell to tackle supply shortage

11th November 2011 at 00:00
Education Secretary admits `boom and bust' has taken place in workforce planning

The Education Secretary has raised the prospect of increasing the number of teachers being trained next year to counteract a shortage of short-term supply teachers.

Michael Russell admitted to a conference of primary headteachers that Scotland has gone through a "boom and bust" scenario when it came to teacher workforce planning.

And he agreed with them that there was currently a problem in some parts of Scotland - his own constituency of Argyll and Bute included - in finding supply cover on a short-term basis.

Both he and members of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) attributed the current shortage of supply teachers to the introduction earlier this year in the teachers' agreement of a pay cut for supply cover for five days or less.

Primary heads from various authorities across Scotland told TESS that they were struggling to find teachers who would provide short-term supply cover, which is now paid at pound;78 per day - pound;13 less than a probationer earns and half the rate paid to a teacher on point 6 of the scale on long- term supply, pound;145.

Many teachers who had previously been available had now taken longer temporary contracts, paid at the full rate, or moved out of teaching altogether, they reported.

Mr Russell told the annual conference of the AHDS he too believed the changes in the teachers' settlement were at the root of the problem.

He told TESS: "I described the deal at the time as not the best deal for everyone, but the best we could do."

He was investigating with his officials whether the situation would require an increase in the number of teachers being trained next year, he said.

"We have had a problem of boom and bust. I am hoping to overcome that by getting more people into training as soon as possible to increase supply," he said.

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, said he was aware of reports of shortages in very specific areas and certain subjects.

But he was not sure that increasing numbers in teacher training would solve the issue.

The going rate

Short-term supply rate (paid up to five days) on point 1 of the scale:

pound;15.63 per hour

pound;78.16 per day

Long-term supply rate for teacher on point 6 of the scale:

pound;20.79 per hour

pound;145.53 per day

Probationer's daily rate


What heads have to say .

Falkirk: "I have just had two members of staff off for three days and was unable to get cover for either of them."

North Lanarkshire: "This is the first time I have ever had a real problem. Supply teachers were all on temporary contracts or were getting jobs elsewhere. It's because of the reduced rate. The only way to cope is for deputes to go into class so there is no cover for their duties."

Dundee: "Supply teachers are being more selective in their choice of days and stage since they are only being paid on point 1 of the scale."

Stirling: "A number of people who were on the supply list have decided they won't do it now because of the pay cut. One local supply teacher told me it wasn't worth her while any more. Short-term supply cover is necessary for us to do some aspects of CPD or allow teachers to lead an aspect of the school improvement plan."

Perth and Kinross: "I have not had too much difficulty getting short-term supply - it's been better than last year. But getting long-term supply has been harder because everyone who is up for it is doing it."

Aberdeen City: "It's a real problem."

Aberdeenshire: "Quite a few are either coming off the supply list completely or will only do longer-term supply."

Original headline: Russell plans to get more people into teacher training in his bid to solve supply shortage

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