A shake-up of school hours is among the measures backed by councillors as part of a bid to tackle teacher shortages.
Members of the education and children’s services committee were told by education bosses at Aberdeenshire Council of a raft of new measures up for consideration in the future to tackle the issue.
The local authority has 59 teacher vacancies across the region with 37 in primary schools and 22 across secondaries.
One of the measures is the introduction of asymmetric weeks for pupils.
The move could mean that instead of each school day being the same length, four could be a little longer, with every school finishing earlier on one of the days.
However, in Aberdeenshire some already operate different school hours.
Inverurie Academy has shorter days on Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays, and longer days on a Wednesday and Thursday.
Councillors say the proposals need to be given “due consideration”, while trade union EIS said it would consult with the local authority.
Alison Evison, education opposition spokeswoman said: “The asymmetric week is one of a number of proposals that has been put forward.
“The impact that this might have on teachers, pupils and their families must be properly assessed before we rush to judgement about implementing it or not, and it is crucial that this assessment seeks the views of teachers themselves.”
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Other measures education bosses were given the go-ahead to explore involve the use of a bursary scheme to financially support those looking to get a teacher qualification and a mortgage support scheme to secure housing in Aberdeenshire.
David Smith, EIS trade union representative for Aberdeenshire, said: “There are various asymmetric models currently in operation in Scotland and the EIS would anticipate being involved in dialogue with the service around any proposals and would consult as appropriate with Aberdeenshire members on these.
“Aberdeenshire EIS have been working in a supportive manner with the council to date in prompting the recruitment and retention of teachers.”
Councillor Anouk Kahanov-Kloppert, who represents Ellon and District, and is also part of the parent council, said: “I believe a restructuring would be a great opportunity to create a win-win situation where children can do an afternoon of extra-curricular or outside activities like music lessons, sports and arts – potentially provided by in-house and private providers.”
The local authority also said it continues to make every effort to retain probationary teachers in the region and has been working in partnership with Aberdeen University on this.
Vincent Docherty, the council’s head of education, said: “Research by the university has shown that many people come to study in the area but leave shortly after their probationary period.
“What they’ve found is, if we can retain people for an additional year, then they are much more likely to stick around in the longer term.”
Mr Docherty is now prioritising work on developing a scheme which would see student teachers offered a package likely to include additional support with the cost of living in exchange for committing to staying in the area for an extra year beyond their probationary period.