Workforce - Aberdeenshire looks far afield to fill teaching posts

6th September 2013 at 01:00
Staff from Canada and Ireland are lured by full-time roles

An overseas recruitment drive is expected to fill up to 30 teaching jobs in schools in Aberdeenshire with staff from Canada and the Republic of Ireland. The council decided to target teachers abroad to combat a shortage of staff in its primary and secondary schools.

The move comes after last week's TESS reported that just under 43 per cent of Scottish post-probationers had not found permanent or temporary teaching posts.

Meanwhile, neighbouring authority Aberdeen City Council has received a flood of applications for 52 "hard to fill" teaching posts after offering teachers an incentive payment of up to #163;5,000 to relocate to the Granite City.

Previously, some of the posts, mainly primary, failed to attract any applications, but 85 had been received when the latest recruitment drive closed a couple of weeks ago.

The council, which offered new teachers #163;3,000 to come to the city and a further #163;2,000 if they stay for three years, targeted teachers in other parts of Scotland but also in Wales, Ireland and England, where they hoped to attract staff unhappy with reforms introduced by education secretary Michael Gove.

In an English advert highlighting the incentive scheme, Gayle Gorman, Aberdeen's director of education, culture and sport, promoted "the wonderful new curriculum in Scotland".

In its search for teaching staff, Aberdeenshire Council cast its net wider. In July, over a period of three days, more than 30 Irish and Canadian probationer teachers were interviewed in their own countries by a panel of three officials, who travelled first to Dublin and then on to Toronto.

Ireland and Canada were targeted because both have high levels of surplus probationer and first-year teachers. So far, 13 teachers have travelled from the two countries to take up posts, but the council expects that, ultimately, closer to 30 will be working in the area.

Among the new teachers is Amy Duckers, who came over from Ontario in Canada with her husband Andrew almost a month ago. She has taken up a post at Oyne Primary near Insch, a small rural school with three classes and 49 pupils.

Ms Duckers, who is aged 26 and qualified as teacher in 2009, has been working as a supply teacher in Canada for the past four years and is taking the P1-2 composite class. She was keen to work in Scotland after visiting the country on her honeymoon last year. "We loved the country, the culture and the people," she said.

But an equally powerful draw was the promise of full-time work, she said. In Canada, Ms Duckers was securing three days of supply teaching a week, but there was "a massive surplus of teachers" and it would have been at least another couple of years until she secured a full-time permanent post at home, she calculated.

"I love having my own class and seeing the same kids every day," Ms Duckers said. "As a supply teacher, I was going to a different school every day."

The new teachers - each of whom cost between #163;4,000 and #163;5,000 to recruit - have committed to working in Aberdeenshire for a year.

"It will be up to the teachers if they stay, but should they wish to, they would be made very welcome," said Wilfred Weir, the authority's head of education. The area's schools will start the year in "a far healthier position" after the overseas recruitment effort, he added.

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