Scots councils set to use bonuses to lure English teachers

Teachers in England are threatening to strike in October over changes to pay and pensions. Picture: Getty
Teachers in England are threatening to strike in October over changes to pay and pensions. Picture: Getty
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SCOTTISH councils are using cash bonuses and anxiety over curriculum changes to lure English teachers to fill vacancies.

Aberdeen City Council has already approved a plan to offer £5,000 bonuses to entice teachers to fill shortages in the area, while Scottish Borders Council is considering targeting “disaffected English teachers” in a bid to fill posts.

Teachers in England are threatening to strike in October over changes to pay and pensions, while curriculum changes being pushed through by England’s education secretary, Michael Gove, have been criticised by unions.

Councillors in Aberdeen have backed a new £260,000 plan that offers teachers £3,000 up front and another £2,000 if they stay with the council for three years.

The money is meant to fill dozens of empty positions, mostly at city primaries.

The advert in the Times Education Supplement appeals to English teachers to consider the “wonderful new curriculum in Scotland” in the “beautiful and inspiring city” of Aberdeen.

In the advert, Gayle Gorman, Aberdeen’s director of education, culture and sport, who moved back to Scotland from England, said: “I was worried about the different education approaches, curriculum and changes since leaving Scotland more than 20 years ago – but education remains constant 
wherever you are – and the wonderful new curriculum in Scotland encourages innovation, risk-taking and creativity. The system is education led and this has enabled the sector to remain true to its principles.”

Ms Gorman told The Scotsman that the staffing situation in primaries and some subject areas in secondary was “extremely challenging”, with about 30-40 unfilled posts.

She said: “This initiative will offer successful candidates for these teaching posts, who are new to the city, a financial incentive – an additional payment on taking up a post followed by a further payment at the end of an agreed period of service.

“In addition, there may be some secondary posts in hard-to-fill subject areas to which we may wish to attach the incentive payment.

“The fact that part of the payment is withheld until a minimum work period has been completed will ensure continuity in terms of teachers, which will benefit pupil progress, as will attaching a performance 
element to the second payment.”

As English teachers consider industrial action, Yvonne McCracken, head of schools at Scottish Borders Council said the authority was considering widening the pool of potential applicants to target “disaffected English teachers”.

She said: “Given our geographical location we should be attracting more teachers from England.

“While the curriculum is quite different, good teaching and learning is the same no matter where you are from.

“It will be galling for newly qualified teachers who have not got a job to read that we are struggling for teachers, but posts come up throughout the school year, as people move, become ill or simply leave, and it’s those we will struggle to fill.”

A Borders council spokesman said they had no plans to offer bonuses similar to Aberdeen.