Retired teachers called on to help tackle school shortages

Retired teachers are being pressed into service to try to ease teacher shortages. Picture: Steven Brown
Retired teachers are being pressed into service to try to ease teacher shortages. Picture: Steven Brown
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A Scottish council is trying to get retired teachers back into the classroom to help tackle classroom shortages.

Head teachers and their deputies are being dragged in to cover vacancies at schools in Aberdeenshire’s largest town taking them away from their regular jobs.

Now a pilot scheme is being introduced focusing on primary schools in Peterhead which could be rolled out across the region if it is a success.

Letters have been sent out to recently retired teachers calling on them to consider returning to work until June.

Director of Education & Children’s Services, Maria Walker, said: “As part of this scheme, we have written to retired teachers in the Peterhead area offering them a chance to return part-time to the classroom.

“We are targeting Peterhead retirees because we know teachers in the town are often from the area and we know that people want flexibility as part of their retirement.

“Our message to them is please consider what you can do to help give our children the education they deserve.”

Council leaders across northern Scotland called for urgent action to deal with teacher shortages last year after failing to fill nearly 300 teaching and head teacher posts.

The worst cases were in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands where some schools were struggling to cope under the pressures of finding staff for the classroom.

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Local authorities turned to desperate measures to tackle the shortages, offering golden hello packages worth 5,000 pounds to encourage new teachers to the area and launching recruitment campaigns in Canada and Ireland.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning & Leisure Committee, councillor Alison Evison, said: “We have a developing challenge in Peterhead and this drive is about providing consistency for the children at the centre of it all.

“The council has done a huge amount of work to encourage teachers to take up permanent positions in Aberdeenshire through schemes such as the DLITE programme or TIE scheme through which former oil and gas workers are training to become maths and science teachers.

“But we are still having challenges and we can’t sit doing nothing. These are highly experienced and knowledgeable former teachers and if any of them would consider a return to teaching, I’d ask them to contact the council so we can discuss their options with them.”

At Meethill School, the staff shortage is being keenly felt with nearly half of the primary’s eight teaching posts currently vacant.

A further eight staff are being recruited for another primary school in the town.

The council is expecting a further five vacancies to come up over the next few months and two positions are already being covered by supply teachers.

Teachers considering returning to the classroom will be offered 20, 30 or 40 days of supply teaching hours until the summer giving them the flexibility to work part-time around their lifestyles.

Mrs Walker added: “We need to up the teacher numbers in Peterhead. One of the things we know about people who retire is they would want to come back, with some flexibility.”