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Call for national task force to address teacher shortages

30/09/15

The leaders of seven local authorities in the North and North-east of Scotland have called for a national taskforce to be set up to help deal with teacher recruitment today (Wed 30 Sep).

The call was made at The North Scotland – Raising Attainment: Securing Teachers Summit which was hosted by Aberdeen City Council, with participation from Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Western Isles, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands councils.

The recruitment of teachers is seen as essential to raising attainment in schools across the region and the aim of the summit was to understand the root causes underlying the current challenges and to identify solutions at a national and local level to support the region at a time of unprecedented low numbers of applicants and increased pupil numbers.

The summit was attended by Council Leaders, Education Conveners and the Directors of Education for the seven participating local authorities and Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Delegates 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.

Following 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."