More than £570k spent last year on supply teachers

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Scottish Borders Council spent more than £574,950 on supply teachers during the last academic year.

A freedom of information request by the Southern Reporter also showed that the council has since reduced its expenditure on supply teaching staff to just over £342,000 this academic year, from August 16 until March 17.

This includes coverage for all of the region’s 62 primary schools and its 9 secondary schools.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council (SBC) said: “The Council’s aim is to make use of temporary teaching staff only when absolutely necessary but some of the reasons we have to include maternity cover, staff absence, phased or flexible retirement agreements and other changes in supporting the service i.e. teachers taking up a secondment or promotion either elsewhere in the service or outwith the area.

“We also work actively to reduce the number of vacancies we have by offering permanent posts wherever possible and, as part of our ongoing annual recruitment campaign, take every opportunity to promote teaching in the Scottish Borders as an attractive career option. One example of this is the successful event we held in Galashiels recently to attract high quality candidates for the range of leadership vacancies we currently have available.”

The FOI request also revealed that during 2015, 32 Borders teachers were off due to stress. This year, that number has so far reached 18.

The council’s spokesperson added: “The health and wellbeing of all our staff is a matter that we take very seriously and we make every effort to support anyone who may be having difficulty.”

Chritine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, welcomed the reduction of both the amount of money the council has spent on supply teachers and those off as a result of stress.

She said: “The fall in teacher absences due to sickness through stress by 45% is good news for staff and pupils and the knock on effect of a drop in therefore supply teachers being required is also to be welcomed.

“I would also take this opportunity as a former secondary teacher to thank all our staff in primary and secondary education for the grand job they do, as I know from my school visits, day in day out.”