Aberdeenshire Council has said it is encouraged after attending yesterdays summit to discuss the shortage of teachers in the north and north east of Scotland.
The Raising Attainment: Securing Teachers Summit, at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom on Wednesday was attended by seven councils from the north and north east of Scotland who discussed the difficulties in securing sufficient teacher numbers.
Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, attended the summit along with representatives from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Western Isles, Orkney Islands & Shetland Islands councils, parent bodies, General Teaching Council for Scotland and Scottish Government officials.
The summit explored the challenges faced by councils in securing and maintaining teacher numbers; looking at issues including property prices, workforce planning, and the recruitment and registration process.
Attendees heard that a national task force, a North weighting allowance and discussions over education budgets from Central Government are among the issues that should be addressed.
Among those attending was Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Cllr Richard Thomson, who said
The challenges we face in Aberdeenshire are by no means unique to us, so having this collective discussion is an important part of finding solutions that can benefit us all.
There is still much to discuss but today’s summit has been very encouraging as we look at ways to improve workforce planning across Scotland, particularly in terms of the needs of the seven councils represented today.
Also attending was the council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee chair, Cllr Alison Evison, who said
Having a stable workforce is indeed a key focus for any education authority but it is important we also look at the wider context of improving attainment and ‘closing the gap’ between our learners.
We need to ensure that the outcomes from today’s summit address the real needs of our pupils and communities. It is important that we make the most appropriate use of all resources in education to prepare children for their future lives.
We also need to explore how we can streamline the process for recruitment and registration for teachers living outside Scotland who are interested in a career here. Today’s discussions are a starting point for us to explore all of these issues.
Speaking after the summit, Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said
On behalf of all seven councils which called for this Education Summit, I would like to thank Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning for sitting round the table with us today so she could hear first-hand of our concerns on continuing to raise attainment while we face the current challenges in recruiting teachers, and to consider possible solutions at a national and local level to support the region at a time of unprecedented low numbers of applicants and increased pupil numbers.
I would now ask that the Cabinet Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning to consider the key priorities from the summit.
Firstly, the priority has to be the establishment of a nationally supported taskforce to agree an action plan for the region. Secondly, I would also ask that consideration is given to whether a weighting for the North of Scotland would work for the recruitment of public sector workers similar to the weighting allowance for London and the Islands. Thirdly, consideration must be given to addressing the annual budget settlement for North authorities to reflect these challenges.
We have made a huge amount of effort to fill our teacher vacancies so we would ask that this is recognised and that going forward we can have a flexible and innovative approach to resolve the issues which if not addressed could have a major impact upon the education of many thousands of our children.
Aberdeenshire Council has recently commissioned a high profile London agency to create a dedicated website to help address the teacher shortage in the shire.
The More To Life website provides information about relocating and working in Aberdeenshire to qualified primary and secondary school teachers.
Successful external applicants are able to receive a £5000 relocation incentive on acceptance of a formal job offer with the council. A further £3000 may also be available to help with relocation costs.