Borders attracts teachers

There has been a “tremendous influx” of new teachers in the Borders with the region not having the recruitment problems experienced in other rural areas of Scotland.

Berwickshire High School
Berwickshire High School

That upbeat message was conveyed to last week’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council by Sandy Aitchison, executive member for education.

“We are extremely fortunate compared to authorities, particularly in the north and north-east, who are having extraordinary difficulties recruiting teachers,” said Councillor Aitchison.

He confirmed that, as a result of a recruitment day held at Cardrona in March, all vacant secondary posts – including those in maths and science where there are national shortages – had been filled before the summer holidays.

Since then, four maths vacancies had arisen and these were being advertised nationally.

“We expect to be able to recruit to these vacancies in the very near future,” he added.

Earlier, he rejected a suggestion that secondary students in the Borders were being disadvantaged by being restricted to studying for no more than six National 5 (N5) examinations which replaced Standard Grades two years ago.

Mr Aitchison claimed the approach in the Borders was consistent with the rest of Scotland although he admitted “a few schools” in other areas offered pupils up to eight N5 presentations.

“Despite the changes to the qualifications, entry level to university remains the same,” he said.

“Students require good quality grades at Higher level for all degree courses and, for some courses, require to gain Advanced Highers in specific subjects.

“Our approach to N5 exams provides our students with a strong foundation to prepare for Higher and Advance Higher exams which are more relevant and necessary for entry to university.”

He stressed that the Borders had the fourth best record in Scotland for providing school-leavers with “positive destinations” - in work, training, further or higher education placements.

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information response has revealed there are fewer supply teachers on SBC’s books than at any time over the past five years.

In 2014/15 there were 109 supply teachers in primary and 97 in secondary, compared to 225 and 175 respectively in 2010/11.

Over the same period the council’s annual spend on supply teachers fell from £1.57m to £1m.