Row over tests for teachers as SNP tackles recruitment 'concerns'

Conservatives say primary headteacher shortages 'harming schools' across Scotland

Vacancies: Some headteacher jobs received just one application.
Vacancies: Some headteacher jobs received just one application. © STV

There is a 'clear disparity' across Scotland when it comes to interest in primary school headteacher posts, according to the Scottish Conservatives. 

The party said primary schools in parts of the country were 'struggling' to attract applicants for vacant headteacher posts, with some councils barely receiving one application per vacancy. 

Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire and South Ayrshire all received fewer than two submissions per empty post last year, the research revealed. 

In a calculation of the Freedom of Information responses, the party said the ratio was 4.2 applications per vacancy across the country for 2014/15. Councils with the most interest in vacancies were South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh. 

The Scottish Government wants all headteachers to sit a new masters qualification as of 2018/19, which the Tories said could create 'more barriers'. 

The party's young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "There is a very clear disparity across Scotland when it comes to interest in primary headteacher posts. 

"In some areas, schools are getting barely one application per vacancy. 

"Any industry would have concerns over that when it comes to competition for places. 

"The Scottish Government needs to ensure more teachers are encouraged to make the step up and aspire to a greater role. 

"But instead, it wants to make life even more difficult by forcing would-be headteachers to undertake an additional qualification which - from the evidence provided to the Education Committee - suggests more, not fewer barriers could be put in the way of professional development. 

"This shortage is already harming schools in some areas, and it seems this problem will only get worse." 

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "This Government is fully committed to maintaining teacher numbers as a central part of our priority to improve attainment. 

"Every local authority was allocated an appropriate share of £41 million additional funding provided to help meet the agreement to maintain teacher numbers. 

"Teacher quality and effective school leadership are a fundamental part of improving outcomes for children and young people. 

"We established the Scottish College for Educational Leadership which has developed a masters qualification for Headship to ensure schools are led by headteachers ready for the role and will continue to support the cost of course fees for ambitious teachers who are ready to take the step into headship. 

"While it is the responsibility of local authorities to employ headteachers and teachers we will work with them to help address concerns around recruitment. 

"We have increased intake targets to initial teacher education in each of the last five years. The 2016/17 intake target is 66% above the student teacher intake target for 2011/12."

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