Scotland’s schools facing supply teacher shortage

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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MORE teachers are needed to tackle the “problem” with supply cover across Scotland, education Secretary Michael Russell said today.

Many councils have recorded a drop in the number of supply teachers available and unions have warned it means pupils can be left in school canteens not being taught.

“I think there’s a problem and we need to resolve this problem,” Mr Russell told BBC Radio Scotland today.

An agreement between the EIS teaching union, the Scottish Government and councils two years ago changed the way supply teachers are paid and means they start at a lower rate which increases after five days of work.

“The union, local government and the Government are talking about resolving that and there’s a new offer on the table which will help,”

Mr Russell added.

Government measures to cut the number of out-of work teachers has meant a smaller pool available for supply teaching.

Mr Russell’s former school Marr College in Ayrshire is among those which is struggling with supply cover it has emerged.

“It is South Ayshire Council which is the employer there,” the education secretary added.

“They, I’m sure, have the option of moving teachers temporarily from other schools to try and solve that.

“But they do want to - and should - employ more teachers and I’m sure that they will do so.”

The EIS says more than a third of supply requests are not being met and that students are losing out. General secretary Larry Flanagan said it means pupils are not being taught by subject specialists or can even be left “sitting in the canteen being supervised” because no teacher is available.