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Education / School staff invited to think about training to become teachers

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) is looking within to help tackle a lack of teachers.

The council is inviting expressions of interest from staff working in its schools who may be interested in becoming a teacher.

A spokesperson said this could either be in the primary or secondary sector for specific subject areas.

“This offer is one strand of the ways we are tackling the workforce issues we have and the lack of teachers here in Shetland to appoint to teaching posts,” they added.

The lack of teachers in specialist areas like technical was raised at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

Lerwick South councillor Dennis Leask suggested some parents might move their children to larger schools, like the Anderson, where there may be more specialist teachers.

Children’s services director Helen Budge said technical teaching was a “big issue” for the SIC, while home economics has proved a problem too.

She said there were gaps across the whole school estate in subjects such as these, and not just in certain schools.

“That is a broader workforce issue for us that we are trying to begin to help fix by asking staff for expressions of interest to train with us to maintain our teachers in our schools,” Budge said.

Late last year councillors were also told about a lack of PE and music teachers in Shetland.

There are a number of job adverts currently active for positions within schools in Shetland, including four at Sandwick Junior High School and three at Lerwick’s Anderson High School.

Applications are also invited to join the council’s relief bank of teaching to provide support in schools across Shetland.

Members of the relief bank would be contacted on an ‘as and when required’ basis to provide cover, such as when there is staff absence.

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Meanwhile the SIC recently issued a warning about its workforce challenge ahead of the 2024/25 budget setting process.

This boils down to not having enough staff to run services as they are.

The council said it had around 200 full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies across the organisation, while the existing workforce is ageing too.

Council leader Emma Macdonald said at the time that the situation with vacancies was getting worse, adding: “We simply can’t keep trying and failing to deliver the same services with fewer staff.”

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