School recruitment crisis sees history teacher supervising computing class

Queensferry High. Picture: Google
Queensferry High. Picture: Google
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A SCHOOL has drafted in a history teacher to supervise computing classes after being unable to recruit a new computing sciences expert, MSPs have been told.

Speaking during a debate at Holyrood, Liberal Democrat Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton challenged Education Secretary John Swinney on the situation at Queensferry High.

Mr Cole-Hamilton was contacted by a parent concerned that the computing science teacher who left in February had not been replaced.

He said: “She was the only such teacher at the school, so all computer classes are currently going without.”

To deal with this, he said, “the measures adopted by the school include pupils following a set of powerpoint lesson plans under the supervision of a history teacher”.

However, he questioned how pupils would gain “vital qualifications if there is no-one there to explain coursework to them when they get stuck”.

Recruitment problems at Queensferry High come after we revealed last year how Trinity Academy had resorted to appealing to parents to help after being unable to fill two maths teacher vacancies.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said that there were significant issues around teacher recruitment in schools. He said: “Challenges in filling some places in teacher education programmes extend beyond STEM subjects. The most effective solutions to attracting greater numbers are actions to reduce excessive workload and significant improvements to teachers’ pay.”

A city council spokesman said: “The school is implementing various measures to support pupils’ learning in computing and to minimise disruption. We are working closely with the school to fill the vacancy, one of several currently being advertised as part of our online teacher recruitment campaign.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we recognise some areas have faced challenges filling vacancies.

“This is why we have invested £88 million in 2017, resulting in 543 more teachers than last year – the second year in a row there’s been an increase in teacher numbers.”

The spokesman added: “The Scottish Government recently announced STEM bursaries of £20,000 for career changers to train to become teachers of priority STEM subjects, including computing science, starting in August 2018.”