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Lack of teachers limiting Stem choices for pupils

Our table shows the net shortage of teachers in science and particularly maths and design and technology
Our table shows the net shortage of teachers in science and particularly maths and design and technology

A chronic shortage of specialist teachers is preventing some north-east pupils from taking the Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects they are passionate about.

New figures have revealed that more than a quarter of Aberdeen’s technical teacher posts and 10% of its maths positions are unfilled.

And while most are able to cope, some schools have been forced to restrict the curriculum options they can pass on to students.

Harlaw Academy, which requires new biology, chemistry, physics and maths teachers, has had to limit the number of junior students able to take these subjects.

Hazlehead Academy has had to limit the number of pupils in its design and technology classes.

Efforts have been made to bring new teachers to the region.

In recent years Aberdeen City Council has offered “generous” relocation packages and embarked on advertising campaigns.

But the EIS union has said wider changes are needed to prevent this work from going to waste.

Joint secretary for the Aberdeen branch Ron Constable said: “Aberdeen City Council has made significant efforts to recruit teachers to the city and there has been some reduction in vacancies compared with this time last year.

“However, the vacancies in design and technology and maths only highlight the difficulty in filling vacant posts.

“A growing number of experienced teachers are choosing to leave the profession early and not enough new teachers are coming into the system.

“In order to make teaching an attractive career option, issues such as severe workload, additional support needs and health and well-being must be addressed.”

A city council spokesman said: “We continue to take positive action to address the challenges of recruitment. These include generous relocation packages, a social media campaign to support recruitment processes and working successfully for the first time with two agencies to try to help us fill hard-to-reach posts.”

Issues have also been experienced in Aberdeenshire, albeit to a lesser extent.
Several schools have reported “struggles” in recruiting for certain specialisms, but most said there has been little impact.

Peterhead Academy has been unable to offer the advanced Higher chemistry course, while Aboyne Academy said it had to “streamline” its offerings after being without a technical teacher for a year.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of our schools are offering the full complement of Stem courses.”

She pointed to a number of approaches it is using to find more staff including distance learning, schemes with universities and social media advertising.

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