Pupils at a Dundee high school have not had lessons from a dedicated English teacher this academic year in what has been branded a staffing “shambles” by parents.
The department at St Paul’s RC Academy in Kirkton currently only has three English teachers with the rest of the pupils taught by one Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), two supply teachers and one covering science teacher.
The school, which has reportedly told parents it is “rotating” classes, was aware of the potential staffing crisis long before the August term began as two English teachers were scheduled to begin maternity leave.
The council says priority access to English teachers is being given to those preparing for exams but advice and support is being made available “outside class time” to pupils willing to stay behind.
It also said it has discussed the crisis with the school’s head teacher and the parent council.
A concerned parent, who did not wish to be named, said he feared his S1 daughter was not receiving a valid education.
He said: “The classes are not being rotated. It’s absolutely not true.
“My daughter has only been taught by two teachers, neither of whom are English teachers. She is really worried.
“We are worried too about how it is affecting her and how it will impact on her confidence and development.
“Considering the fact many of the pupils at St Paul’s are in the SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) and there is a massive push on literacy, I find it absolutely disgusting that my daughter has not received teaching by anything other than cover teachers.
“Regardless of what the council is doing now it’s too late for this current S1. They have let this go on and are totally liable for the shambles that is happening in St. Paul’s.”
It was revealed earlier this month a teaching post at the school has been vacant since June 2017.
It was among 25 roles across the city’s schools unfilled at the start of the 2019.
David Baxter, local rep from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union, said the lack of teachers is not the fault of schools or councils.
He said: “There’s just not enough teachers and we can’t just magic them up.
“In a situation like at St Paul’s where two teachers are on maternity leave, it’s almost impossible to find cover teachers in that subject to come in.
“It’s a problem across Scotland. One of the things EIS believes is putting teachers off is the issue of pay. You can’t sell teaching on just altruism.”
Dundee City Council children and families service convener councillor Stewart Hunter said: “All English classes preparing for exams at St Paul’s Academy will be taught by an English teacher during the course of the school week.
“There is a vacancy in the department as well as other absences. Supply staff have been brought in to help the situation and qualified English teachers from support for learning and the school’s management team are also assisting.
“Pupils will also have access to English teachers outside class time for advice and support. The situation has been discussed between the head teacher and the parent council.
“If any parent has any concerns about their children’s education they should contact the school directly to discuss this.”