Schools chiefs reject ‘crisis’ warning

Shamin Akhtar
Shamin Akhtar
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SCHOOL leaders across the Lothians have insisted scores of vacant teaching posts will be filled by the start of term amid fears of an emerging “recruitment crisis”.

The assurances came after fresh figures revealed there were nearly 130 vacancies across Edinburgh and the three Lothian regions towards the end of last month.

East Lothian Council had 50 vacancies for primary teachers and another 20 for secondary staff.

And in the Capital, ten full-time and 12 part-time posts were being advertised.

The figures have been blasted by Scottish Liberal Democrat chiefs, who obtained them through Freedom of Information requests, and warned they were a sign schools could be facing a hiring “crisis” as classroom conditions deteriorate and staff morale plunges.

One city council-employed supply teacher, who asked not to be named, said the figures reflected a sense that the profession was “under-resourced, painfully undervalued and now unacceptably stressful”.

He said: “Teachers feel they’re often undermined and unsupported by the environment in which they work and the general mood is commonly one of ongoing disappointment, anger and frustration.

“Teachers’ concerns are routinely ignored and in particular the lack of available supply staff due to the huge pay cut means mainstream teachers’ designated free time to mark, prepare, retrain and realise their potential during the school day is as good as gone.

“I think a lot of graduates who come into education now complete a year or two and then take their skills somewhere else where the pay and conditions are so much better.”

Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian Council spokeswoman for education and children’s wellbeing, said: “Firstly, East Lothian Council is absolutely focused on teacher recruitment to ensure roles are filled for the new term.

“The number of empty vacancies outlined is misleading as many of these positions were at the advanced recruitment and selection process stage at the time, which has not been made clear.

“As of July 22, East Lothian Council had successfully filled 56 of the vacancies, and will continue the ongoing recruitment process for high calibre teachers for our young people.”

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: “Most vacancies created by teachers leaving on June 30 will be filled by the start of term in August but the council is currently in the middle of the busy recruitment period, with hundreds of candidates to process.”

Education departments in West and Midlothian reported 21 and ten vacancies respectively. Officials were not available for comment on teaching concerns.