Biggar High School is unable to recruit new teachers

Biggar head Robert Stewart wrote to parents.
Biggar head Robert Stewart wrote to parents.
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Clydesdale Greens want to know why Biggar High School has been unable to find teachers to fill vacancies there for several months.

sOn Friday head teacher Robert Stewart sent out a letter to parents detailing the vacancies, and the problems.

Green candidate Janet Moxley.

Green candidate Janet Moxley.

“As you will be aware, at present we find ourselves in a situation where we are short of staff in key subject areas and all attempts with regard to recruitment have as yet failed to deliver replacement staff,” he said.

Two English teachers were needed, and he was taking resposibility for four English classe himself to help out, along with teachers for technical and business subjects.

Mr Stewart said in his letter that the situation was not ideal, adding: “The position we find ourselves in is frustrating to say the least, but please believe and accept we are doing the best we can within the parameters of the staffing we have available to us.”

Janet Moxley, the Scottish Green candidate for the Clydesdale East ward whose two children attend Biggar High School said said that parents had been notified a few months ago about the difficulties in recruiting teachers, and had now been told that despite strenuous efforts by the school to fill vacancies there were still shortages.

“This situation is clearly not the fault of Biggar High School or its staff who have been doing their best in very difficult circumstances,” she said. “However it is far from satisfactory that some pupils are missing out on tuition in key subjects such as English.

“The Scottish Government has promised to increase teacher numbers, but the measures in place do not seem to be working. The shortage of teachers seems to be particularly acute in rural areas such as Biggar.”

And she said that while many parents were able to help their children, not all could, or were able to pay for private tutors, meaning some children would b e left behind.

“There seem to be a number of factors contributing to this situation including high workload and low morale in the teaching profession across Scotland, high drop out rates amongst trainee teachers, reducing numbers of support staff and some teachers preferring to work in urban rather than rural areas.

“While Biggar High School is doing its best to provide cover for these vacancies, I think there are more strategic issues which need to be considered.

“I would like to know what steps the Education Services Department in South Lanarkshire intend to take to improve teacher recruitment and retention at Biggar High, and what measures Scottish Government intend to take to improve the availability of qualified teachers in rural areas.”