Staffing Crisis Causes School Leaders Anguish

Post from Patrick Yates – Brechin High Parent Council
At last week’s Parent Council meeting one issue we discussed was the difficulties for parents / carers, pupils and the school SMT with staff shortages and the impacts of these shortages.

A specific example of a problem was that our children sometimes had several different teachers for the same subject over quite a short time and this lack of continuity made learning a challenge.

At the end of the discussion I said I would contact the SPTC (Scottish Parent Teacher Council) to see if this was an issue elsewhere. I also suggested that I could contact other Parent Councils in the are to see if this problem was being experienced elsewhere.

I’ve copied my query to the SPTC and their reply below and I’ve attached a copy of a recent article in the TESS (Times Education Supplement Scotland) which also comments on this issue. Click on this link to view article.

Staffing crisis causes school leaders anguish

I’ve also spoken to my work colleague (who is the Chair of Websters High School Parent Council) about this. She said it wasn’t really an issue, but did then say they were more focussed on a few other issues at present, such as fundraising for two new school mini-buses.

I’ve not spoken with any other local Parent Councils, nor do I intend to, as there clearly is an issue with the availability of Supply Teachers for the reasons Steve Dempsey explained at our meeting – which boils down to the remuneration package and conditions now offered to Supply Teachers.

If or when I hear anything more from the SPTC I shall send out an update.



Question to Eileen Prior, Executive Director, SPTC 
Iam the Chair of Brechin High School Parent Council and at our last Parent Council meeting (Wednesday 27.03.13) one concern we discussed was the increasing occurrences of our childrens education being adversly impacted by a constant change of teachers in a very short timescale. i.e having classes with 2,3 or even more different teachers teaching the same subject over a short period of time. Each time a different teacher is involved there is no continuity of what is being taught to the pupils.

During the discussion the Head Teacher reported that one of the difficulties he faces is a lack of Supply Teachers. This means he is having to re-arrange other teachers’ schedules within the school which then has a domino effect on other lessons thoughout the school.

I know that The Herald, on 24.12.12, reported that the Scottish Secondary Schools Association were claiming that pupils were losing out because of a shortage of supply staff.
Are other schools reporting the issues we are having as detailed above? Are you aware of any plans to rectify the situation if it is a problem? If there are no such plans at this time is it something that the SPTC might consider investigating?

Reply from Eileen Prior, SPTC
This has been an issue for some time, since the pay rates for supply teachers were changed over a year ago. We have tried through a Parents Voice survey to get a handle on the impact, but that drew little response and to be frank not many parents have raised it with us as an issue.

I think the problem is that many parents are not aware of what’s happening, unless their child or head teacher raises it. There had been some press coverage over the last week or so on the issue but we are only going to be able to take it up if we receive calls/emails like yours.
It is of course also a political issue, with the different parties taking different lines against the SNP administration!
I will ask around to try to find out what the situation is in other parts of the country, and keep you in the loop.

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