School in Swinney's constituency asks parents for maths help

A secondary school in the ­constituency of education ­secretary John Swinney has sent out a letter to parents ­asking them for help with teaching mathematics.

John Swinney is under pressure over teacher numbers. Picture: PA
John Swinney is under pressure over teacher numbers. Picture: PA

Bev Leslie, head teacher at Blairgowrie high school, contacted parents saying the school is looking for “creative short-term measures” as it struggles to cope with a shortage of maths teachers.

Ms Leslie wrote: “Any parents with a maths or related degree who would be interested in supporting our pupils in the short term, please contact either myself or [depute head] Mrs Hill.”

The school usually has five maths teachers, but has recently advertised two vacancies in the department, with interviews scheduled for next week.

Last night Murdo Fraser Conservative MSP for North East Scotland –whose constituency also covers the high school – said he had been contacted by a number of parents concerned that their children’s chances in forthcoming exams could be potentially damaged.

“These parents are appalled that an appeal has gone out to parental volunteers to cover gaps,” said Mr Fraser.

“This is happening in John Swinney’s constituency, the man in charge of education in Scotland, and what parents are looking for is some action on these shortages from him.”

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said temporary cover was being provided by maths teachers from other schools in the area with priority going to senior pupils sitting exams next month.

She added: “We would like to reassure all parents and pupils we have processes in place to ensure there is appropriate class cover to minimise disruption to learning.

“We are conscious there will be concerns about what support will be available with the upcoming exams and we will take every measure to provide teaching cover and support so that pupils are not losing out.

“The request from the head teacher for parental support was not a request for parents to teach a class or provide classroom support; rather it was about seeking information relating to any General Teaching Council for Scotland qualified teachers who may not be on the council ­supply list.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government recognises some councils have faced challenges with teacher numbers. While teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we are taking a number of actions to help recruit and retain teachers, and widen the pool of available talent.

“The Scottish Government worked with local authorities to increase teacher numbers this year, with an additional 253 teachers in Scottish classrooms, and are increasing ­student places for the sixth consecutive year.”