Dundee’s children and families services convener has been accused of “rank complacency” over the local authority’s struggle to recruit science and maths teachers.
Figures compiled by the Royal Society of Edinburgh revealed schools across the city are struggling to recruit teachers for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.
In other parts of Scotland, such as Blaigowrie and Edinburgh, parents with expertise in maths have even been asked to help at schools.
The figures revealed a number of schools did not have enough physics teachers while Baldragon Academy has not been able to recruit the number of maths and chemistry teachers it deems necessary.
Children and families services convener Gregor Murray said Dundee was doing “much better” than other councils when it comes to teacher recruitment and that the shortage of STEM teachers is a national issue.
But Labour Lochee councillor Michael Marra said the convener is being complacent about the statistics.
He said: “The reaction of the SNP administration to these figures is frankly mind-bending.
“Any pupil, parent or teacher reading that there is currently ‘no disruption to pupils’ learning’ will wonder what schools, in what city, the SNP is talking about.
“This rank complacency, incompetence in fact, is appalling but of no surprise.”
Mr Marra said he believes the shortage of STEM teaches is going to get worse as more leave the profession.
He said: “I believe that the situation could in fact be significantly worse than this patchwork mess of half completed figures describes.
“Maths at Baldragon is being taught by 4.8 full-time equivalent teachers – not the 5.4 figure which would be bad enough in itself. I also know that that figure is about to get worse rather than better as teachers leave the classroom due to chronic over-crowding in classes and associated indiscipline.
“What we are being told is that nothing more can be done. That the administration is ‘doing well’. That this is a ‘global’ issue.
“People are fed up of this rubbish. We could start by addressing the working conditions teachers face. What is being done to reduce workload? That is a contractual obligation from the council but there is no evidence of it happening.
“What is being done to ensure better discipline? This would help hugely with recruitment. Where is the plan to ensure Dundee children get the education they have a right to?”
Mr Marra said the SNP Scottish Government at Holyrood, which has been in power since 2007, has overseen a “national crisis” in Scotland’s classrooms.
Gregor Murray vehemently denied the accusation of complacency, saying: “Nothing could be further from the truth – perhaps that shows how little Councillor Marra knows of the fantastic work being done across the city to ensure we have posts filled.
“We are continuing to improve, and are doing better than other local authorities. We are not, and will never be, complacent. We continue to advertise and work on recruitment.
“We will also continue to work with colleagues in COSLA, in the Scottish Government and our Universities to ensure that these places are filled.”
Dundee University has launched a new fast-track course to held address the shortage of STEM teachers.
The year-long course allows would-be teachers to earn a probationer’s salary of £22,400 while they train.