Aberdeen teachers asked to house trainee staff

Aberdeen council leader Barney Crockett insists the solution is 'practical'. Picture: Hemedia
Aberdeen council leader Barney Crockett insists the solution is 'practical'. Picture: Hemedia
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TEACHERS are being asked to help solve a staffing crisis by taking in trainees as lodgers in their homes.

Education chiefs at Aberdeen City Council said the rocketing cost of living in the area, fuelled by high wages on offer in the oil industry, had left the local authority struggling to fill teaching vacancies.

But one teaching union leader said the lodger plan was “daft”.

The Labour-led council has previously offered cash incentives to attract more candidates to the area, where high house values and soaring rents are pricing many out of the market. Now officials have e-mailed all teaching staff asking about “extra capacity” for incoming probationers struggling to find somewhere to stay.

One leading councillor went a step further and said elected members should also be prepared to take teachers into their homes if necessary.

Barney Crockett said it would be “a great way” to help the city, which he said had become a magnet for jobseekers from the UK and beyond. Mr Crockett said measures put in place by the administration were showing a good return.

But he insisted offering spare rooms to new teachers should be embraced as a “practical” solution. He said: “We should be extending this to councillors and parent representatives to try to encourage people to offer accommodation to new teachers.”

Earlier this week, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found salaries paid to unpromoted Scottish teachers had fallen behind those in Finland, Italy, Norway and New Zealand. The Education at a Glance 2014 report said secondary staff in Scotland were now ranked 21st out of 34 developed nations, compared with 17th a year earlier.

Alan McKenzie, acting general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said raising salaries across Scotland would be a better solution than reducing a cost in one area.

He said: “It’s an imaginative solution to the problem that Aberdeen has. To me, it sounds like a daft solution.

“Probationers need a cheap place to stay because the cost of living is considerable and, even with the extra bounty on offer, Aberdeen would be the last choice for a great many people from the Central Belt, I’m sorry to say.

“The incentive is a rise in all teachers’ salaries, not more

eccentric solutions. Let’s make the job attractive so people can go to all areas of Scotland for their probationary year.”

Opposition politicians in Aberdeen also rubbished the proposal, stating it was “laughable”.

Liberal Democrat Jennifer Stewart said it was “appalling” that teachers arriving in the city should be asked to live in a room “in someone else’s house”.

Council leader Jenny Laing said it was building 2,000 new affordable homes, but a “partnership solution” was needed.