Please sir can we have some teachers?

Aberdeenshire Council has taken its recruitment campaign overseas in a bid to address shortages in teaching staff.

Across three days in July over 30 Irish and Canadian probationer teachers were interviewed in their own countries for posts in Aberdeenshire.

The approach has been designed to attract teachers to the area on a temporary basis, in addition to more traditional methods of encouraging teachers to choose a long-term career in Aberdeenshire.

Ireland and Canada both have high levels of surplus probationer and first year teachers.

The council campaign hopes to attract high quality teachers who need an opportunity to secure their first teaching post.

As part of a package, successful applicants will receive a full induction and conversion to Scottish education standards, a temporary work visa, accommodation and travel costs.

At a cost of between £4-5,000 per teacher recruited, the council hope this will provide a short-term solution to Aberdeenshire’s recruitment difficulties.

An interview panel of three travelled first to Dublin and then onto Toronto to undertake the interviews, with successful candidates expected to travel to Scotland later in August to take up their positions in schools across Aberdeenshire ready for starting work early in the new school term.

Recent studies undertaken in Canada reveal the extent of the teacher surplus in the country, with almost 1 in 3 newly qualified teachers failing to secure employment and in Ireland the position is just as challenging, with around 600 graduate teachers each year failing to secure a teaching position.

Head of Education, policy and resources, Wilfred Weir, said: “This (surplus) presents us with an opportunity to attract quality probationer teachers to a teaching role in one of our schools, helping us to fill much-needed vacancies and ensure that our schools have the appropriate levels of teachers to continue to meet our high standards.

“This overseas campaign will supplement our on-going and significant efforts to attract candidates to the area using more traditional methods of recruitment.”

Cllr Isobel Davidson, Chair of the council’s Education Learning and Leisure Committee, said: “We need to look at innovative ways to fill teaching vacancies in Aberdeenshire. At the moment, we have around 40 teaching vacancies and despite our very best efforts, we are continuing to struggle to fill these posts.”

This includes vacant positions in schools in Deeside and Donside.

A spokesman for teaching union EIS said: “It is essential that the balance is correct, and that all Scottish trained teachers have the opportunity to find work in Scotland if they so wish.

“It is also essential that all individuals trained outwith Scotland meet the very high standards expected of Scotland’s teachers,”