SCOTTISH teachers are expected to start the new academic year amid crippling staff shortages after councils reported that 500 teaching positions have not been filled.
Teaching unions are demanded action after the shocking finding was revealed, arguing that recruitment of new teachers has plummeted in the face of falling real terms wages, worsening conditions and increasing workloads.
The survey of Scottish local authorities by the Herald newspaper found 20 councils out of Scotland’s 32 council areas reported 404 unfilled posts while the other 12 were still advertising for around 100 jobs.
Teaching union EIS’s general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Vacancies at the start of term are clearly a cause for concern. The situation highlights the need for a concerted effort to attract a greater number of qualified teachers into Scotland’s classrooms.
“As the EIS has repeatedly highlighted, making teaching an attractive career option will require greater action to reduce excessive teacher workload and a significant improvement in teachers’ pay and conditions.”
Fellow union NASUWT’s general secretary Chris Keates said if the “rot” in teacher recruitment was to be stopped before it reaches crisis levels the government must recognise and reward teachers as highly skilled professionals.
A spokesman for council body Cosla said: “The issue of recruiting teachers has been problematic for a number of years and sadly remains so. There is no magic wand that can be waved as our young people return to their classrooms over the coming days.
“This is a long-term problem that will require a long-term solution — especially for those councils who have real issues with recruitment.”
A Scottish government spokesman said it has invested £88 million this year to help local authorities maintain the pupil teacher ratio.