Free homes to ease Moray school teacher shortage

The option will be made to try and deal with the staff shortage in Moray. Picture: John Devlin

The option will be made to try and deal with the staff shortage in Moray. Picture: John Devlin

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Teachers are being offered rent-free accommodation in a bid to ease a severe staff shortage.

The local authority has struck a deal with a housebuilder to attract new blood to Moray.

Our shortage of teachers has been well covered in the media and we are delighted that Springfield Properties have been so keen to get involved and support us in attracting more teachers to come and work in Moray

Laurence Findlay

Elgin-based Springfield Properties is offering six months’ free housing to teachers coming from outwith the area.

Moray Council is struggling to fill posts in the area, with more than 70 vacancies in its 53 primary and secondary schools.

The building firm has put ten of its new two-bedroom properties at the council’s disposal in an arrangement which is unprecedented in Scotland.

Combined with the authority’s relocation package, this offer could mean new teachers from outside Moray living rent-free for a year.

It follows an approach to the council by Springfield Properties chairman Sandy Adam after it emerged there was a chronic problem in attracting teachers to the area.

Earlier this year, councillors were warned that unless the situation improved there was a danger that pupils would have to be sent home because of a lack of teacher cover.

Innes Smith, managing director at Springfield, said: “We have offered the council a total of ten flats in Elgin, Forres and Buckie. It can be expensive to move and we hope that the offer of rent-free accommodation for six months will be enough to offset some of those costs. We work in partnership with Moray Council on a number of projects and we are pleased to be able to help with this one.”

Moray Council already offers a relocation package to successful candidates for teaching posts which prove hard to fill and it is hoped the offer of six months’ free accommodation will serve as an added incentive.

The council’s director of education and social care, Laurence Findlay, welcomed the initiative.

He said: “Our shortage of teachers has been well covered in the media and we are delighted that Springfield Properties have been so keen to get involved and support us in attracting more teachers to come and work in Moray.

“I certainly hope this offer will increase interest among teachers.”

Sandy Adam, Springfield’s chairman added: “Everyone at Springfield is excited by the idea that we could help to bring more teachers to Moray.”

Efforts to ease the staffing crisis in Moray have already seen the local authority increase class sizes at six primary schools in Elgin from 25 to 30.

Susan Slater, of the teaching union EIS, said increasing class sizes was “very disappointing”.

She added: “We fully understand the urgency to fill vacancies that cannot be filled at the moment but, at the end of the day, we cannot have an attainment and achievement without maintaining the ratio of pupils to teachers.”

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