Scottish classroom left in tears as 20th teacher in four years quits

Thornwood Primary School in Partick, Glasgow, where parents have complained constant staff changes are disrupting pupils' progress.
Thornwood Primary School in Partick, Glasgow, where parents have complained constant staff changes are disrupting pupils' progress.
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The extent of the teacher recruitment crisis facing Scotland has been revealed as parents have told how a class of eight-year-old children have had 20 different teachers since starting school.

Parents at Thornwood Primary School in Partick, Glasgow, said the latest class teacher – in post since October – left the school without any notice this week. She had been the children’s second permanent class teacher this year.

This comes as experts warn that Scotland’s schools face a staffing crisis with over-stressed, under-paid teachers reaching “breaking point”.

Children in the Thornwood Primary 4 class have had 12 different permanent teachers since starting P1 in 2014.

But one mother, who did not want to be named, said several supply and temporary teachers had been brought in to fill in the gaps after class teachers had left, bringing the total up to 20.

She was told of the latest departure in a letter handed out when she arrived to pick up her child on Monday. She said: “The teacher had been away for a week or so and I was beginning to worry that she might not come back. She is the second permanent teacher they have had this year – the first one left after a couple of months and they had various supply teachers to fill the gap.”

The class has one classroom assistant for just one day a week, while some pupils have conditions such as ADHD and autism, yet have no one-to-one support.

The parent said: “It is a challenging class – there are quite a few children who don’t have English as their first language. I love it being so multicultural, but there is no support for the staff. You can’t just leave a teacher on her own trying to deal with children who don’t have a single word of English.”

She added: “It is so unsettling for the children. Some of them were crying when they heard she was leaving – they have to start all over again. I just think they’re all so far behind, there has been no consistency. We sat down and wrote out the names of all of the teachers who have taught the class since P1 and there were 12, plus eight supply teachers.”

Another mother said her child, in the same class, had been badly affected by the constant changes. She said: “They have been through so much change that when a teacher is off sick, they just assume she has left. There is no communication from the school.”

Earlier this year it emerged that there were almost 700 vacancies in Scottish schools, while research from Bath Spa University suggested more than 40 per cent of Scotland’s teachers intended to quit in the next 18 months.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the council believed the class had had nine permanent class teachers since P1. The school’s deputy head is now covering the class until a permanent solution can be found.

She said: “The headteacher and the staff are working really hard, like any other school in the same situation, to minimise any disruption that staff changes can have.

“This includes teachers from the school covering any temporary staff shortages – teachers who know the children and the school.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said the government had invested £88 million in teacher recruitment this year and said 253 extra teachers had been recruited as a result.