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Education / Recruitment a continued challenge for education – with some posts attracting no interest

THE COUNCIL is reaching a “critical point” with some of its advertised teaching vacancies, according to children’s services director Helen Budge.

She told a meeting of the SIC’s education and families committee on Monday that recruitment is an “ongoing challenge”.

Budge used the example of five technical teacher posts which were recently advertised by the council. Some of these have had no interest at all.

Budge said the council may need to re-look at the delivery of some subjects, perhaps using instructors instead of teachers, with secondaries an area having particular problems.

Vacancies are a key factor behind a £1 million underspend in the children’s services department in 2021/22, totalling £236,000.

There was also an overspend of £123,000 for the continued use of temporary agency staff.

Budge said the department continues to work with the Promote Shetland service to encourage more interest in vacancies.

A specific webpage has been set up by the agency to detail the experiences of people who teach in Shetland.

One recent vacancy which has attracted significant media attention is for a headteacher at the Foula Primary School, which only has a handful of children on its roll.

Budge reiterated though that a similar recruitment process for a Fair Isle headteacher saw more than 200 folk apply – but many did not have the right qualifications.

“We are reaching critical points with some of the posts we have advertised,” she added, following a question from Shetland South member Bryan Peterson.

The children’s services director said “we just need more people to come and help us”.

Shetland Central councillor Catherine Hughson, however, said there was a lack of available housing for people looking to move to the isles.