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Concerns raised in Scottish Parliament about lack of probationary teachers coming to Aberdeenshire


By Kyle Ritchie

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Scotland’s education secretary has admitted probationary teachers are "opting not" to come to rural council areas like Aberdeenshire.

MSPs heard there is a “years-long” issue with attracting and retaining secondary school teachers in these areas.

At education questions, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett said the most recent intake for his local council received 20 of a requested 44 teachers.

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He asked the education secretary when she had last met Aberdeenshire Council.

Jenny Gilruth said the problem, post-Covid, stems from fewer teachers “opting not to tick the box to go anywhere” on their probationer forms.

Mr Burnett said: “The cabinet secretary was quick to point out in a reply to me on June 3 that Aberdeenshire Council had welcomed the 20 newly qualified secondary school teachers for the coming school year.

“What however, she failed to point out though, was that the council had requested 44 teachers and that this is just the latest in a years-long problem where a rural council hasn't been sent enough teachers.”

Last year, the Gordon Schools in Huntly had to drop metal and woodwork from the curriculum over a lack of teachers.

And in June, Aberdeenshire Council’s education director said some heads could “lose faith” over the teacher induction scheme as teacher shortages continue.

Ms Gilruth acknowledged “we need to look again” at how probationers are allocated in Scotland.

She said: “The issue he raises is not specific to Aberdeenshire — there are challenges in relation to Highland Council on this matter and a number of other rural parts of the country...

“I'm keen to look at the probationary scheme and how that's helping to support local authorities like Aberdeenshire Council.

“We know post-pandemic that many probationers are opting not to tick the box to go anywhere, and there's a reticence to do that. So I think we need to look again at the probationer scheme.”


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