Prestwick school hit by science teacher shortage

A TEACHER shortage has forced a Prestwick school to put on weekend lessons to ensure its pupils are fully prepared for their exams, it has been claimed.
Kezia Dugdale raised the issue at Holyrood. Picture: Ian RutherfordKezia Dugdale raised the issue at Holyrood. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kezia Dugdale raised the issue at Holyrood. Picture: Ian Rutherford

During questions in the Scottish Parliament today, Labour education spokeswoman Kezia Dugdale said a “serious shortage” of chemistry teachers at Prestwick Academy had forced the headteacher to bring in staff from other local authorities so that classes could be offered on Saturdays.

The move is to ensure pupils have completed their coursework in time for upcoming exams, she claimed.

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Education secretary Mike Russell had been answering questions about the departure of Roderick Gillespie, a senior figure at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) who is leaving to take up a new post overseas.

Mr Russell said: “The Scottish Qualifications Authority has made it clear that the new qualifications will be unaffected.

“The individual, Mr Roderick Gillespie, is part of just one of eight different teams within the SQA that have been involved in the curriculum for excellence and the SQA is, of course, one of the 17 different organisations—ranging from local authorities to teaching unions, Education Scotland and the Scottish Government—that are involved in the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence (CFE).

“I should also make it clear that, although Mr Gillespie was involved in the development of the exams, he has not been involved in their implementation. Given that we are now only 42 days from the first exam, it is fair to say that we are long past the point at which development was complete. That said, Mr Gillespie remains in post until after the first national exam has been taken, by which time all development work relating to the new Highers will also be complete. Therefore, it is little surprise that the SQA, along with the other partners that are involved in delivering CFE, is able to say with confidence that the new qualifications will be unaffected by the change in personnel.”

However, Ms Dugdale said there was growing concern from parents over the new National exams, which have been brought in to replace Standard Grades as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.