Edinburgh school turns to other staff - and parents - to teach maths

Trinity Academy has a shortage of maths teachers
Trinity Academy has a shortage of maths teachers
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A SCHOOL has resorted to drafting in other subject teachers for maths lessons and calling on parents for help after it was unable to recruit enough staff.

The head teacher at Trinity Academy has written to parents saying he was unable to fill two maths teacher vacancies - despite advertising the posts twice.

Bryan Paterson cited the “national shortage” of teachers in subjects such as mathematics, science, technology, business and home economics as the cause of school’s crisis.

The letter attempts to reassure parents about plans to alleviate the situation by drafting in teachers from other subject areas at the school who have a maths background, before making a direct appeal to parents for help.

Pupils hardest hit by the new arrangements at the school which has just over 800 pupils will be those in S1-S3.

One parent said he was “astonished” when he read the letter and said he was worried about the consequences.

The council’s Education Convener Cllr Ian Perry said he was working closely with the school to minimise disruption to learning.

The letter, sent home with pupils yesterday, explained that the school had been trying to recruit two maths teachers was unable to find suitable candidates.

It continues: “Where necessary, maths teachers may share some classes, particularly in S1-S3, with colleagues from other faculties who mathematics background.”

It concludes: “If any parent can support us in any way, or knows anyone who might be able to do so, please contact me directly.”

One parent with a child in S1 at Trinity Academy said he was concerned about the possible long-term consequences to youngsters.

“I was astonished when I read the letter,” he said. “I know there are problems getting people into teaching but for a subject as fundamental as maths to go uncovered is a disgrace.

“What sort of start to secondary education is this? I’m worried we’ll be dealing with the impact of this for years.

“The idea of staff from another subject teaching maths doesn’t fill me with confidence.

“And the suggestion that parents might step in is laughable.

“But I don’t blame the school. This is a wider problem that needs addressing by the council and the Scottish government.”

Last night education convener Cllr Perry said: “In common with many Scottish local authorities, vacancies in maths are more difficult to fill.

“We want to reassure parents that we are working very closely with the school to support them over this temporary shortage and to minimise any disruption to the pupils’ learning.”

Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said only a wide-ranging overhaul would resolve Scotland’s teacher recruitment and retention problem.

“This is utterly humiliating for the SNP government,” he said. “It lays bare the state of education in Scotland after a decade of SNP government.”

Liz Smith, Conservative shadow education secretary, said: “It’s one thing to have recruitment problems in remote parts of the country. For them to exist in Scotland’s capital city is a scandal.” A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is good that Trinity have sought to provide reassurances on the actions taken to address their current circumstances.

“We have taken decisive action to help recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign,.

“We have worked with local authorities to increase teacher numbers. And we have increased the funding and places for our universities to recruit trainee teachers.”