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Education / Ollaberry headteacher post proving difficult to fill

A road into Ollaberry. Photo © David Medcalf (cc-by-sa/2.0)

THE COUNCIL is struggling to recruit a new headteacher for Ollaberry Primary School – with a number of factors at play, according to children’s services director Helen Budge.

She said the post has been advertised a few times this summer without success.

The post comes with an annual salary of £56,787, but Budge said the size of the school – which has a roll of 20 – may put some people off when it comes to the level of pay.

“It’s not a big school, so there’s not a big differential between a teacher at the top of the scale and a headteacher for that size of a school,” she explained.

“I think that with the pandemic folk aren’t sure maybe what’s going to happen yet next term, and so the thought of making a move at a time where there has been this year of uncertainty…it’s not the easiest time I think for folk to be thinking ‘oh I fancy something different’.”

She added that people coming into that level of role for the first time would also need to take extra training to attain the Standard for Headship accreditation.

“I think there’s a number of factors at the moment that would mean some of our peerier schools are less attractive for staff, or even just a move – we’ve not had a lot of staff looking for different things,” Budge said.

Recruitment of staff has been an issue across the council in recent months, with social care for example also experiencing difficulties.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, recently expressed concern nationally over teachers being on casual contracts who may be out of a job at the start of term.

Their education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart, who is Shetland’s MSP, said the “Scottish Government has presided over a workforce planning crisis”.

But Budge said this is not an issue affecting Shetland and added that recruitment to general classroom posts has been going well.

“We would certainly be very keen to welcome anybody that was interested in being a teacher here,” she said.

“We have had a number of vacancies – we’ve had good interest, and we’ve been able to fill our class teacher posts.

“We’re always keen to hear of teachers that would be interested in coming and being on our supply list.”

Budge added that for anyone considering a move to Shetland, “we would certainly encourage them to look at the jobs that’s on the portal for teaching staff particularly”.