North-east councils spending millions on supply teachers as recruitment challenge continues

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New figures have revealed more than £9 million has been spent on supply teachers in the North-east.

A freedom of information request has shown in 2016/17 Aberdeenshire Council spent £7,318,401.32 on bringing in supply teachers to schools in the area, the highest total in the North-east.

This compares to the £1,964,882 spent by Aberdeen City Council.

In addition, the city council had to re-advertise 132 teaching posts – down from 146 in 2015/16 – while Aberdeenshire Council re-advertised for 121 posts, which was up from 55 a year earlier.

North-east Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: “These figures confirm what many people in the North-east already know.

“Many hard-working teachers feel undervalued and unappreciated. It is no surprise our local councils are having trouble filling teaching posts in our schools.

“We need a proper review of teachers’ pay and conditions if we want Scotland to have a world-class education system again.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: “Supply figures have reduced slightly in Aberdeenshire during this academic year and there is a limited pool of supply teachers.

“However, there is a well-documented national challenge in recruiting teachers which is reflected in the use of supply teachers and the re-advertisement of vacancies in Aberdeenshire.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “While there will be a number of factors influencing the figures, one of the main drivers will be the success we have had recruiting full-time teaching staff.

“Clearly, with more people filling full-time posts, the demand for supply teachers decreases.

“We have undertaken a number of initiatives in the last year to make Aberdeen a more attractive prospect for full-time teachers.

“We are not where we want to be just yet and will look at other ways to maintain the trend of improvement.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, education is this Government’s number one priority which is why we are taking decisive action and investing heavily to help recruit and retain teachers.”