Teaching crisis continues as Fife school stops computing course

© DC Thomson

A Fife school has been forced to stop teaching a key subject as part of the curriculum due to a shortage of teachers.

Lochgelly High School has had no option but to shift pupils from their selected computing course after struggling to recruit an appropriate teacher.

Two previous adverts have failed to find any takers for the role, and the school is in the process of advertising for a third time.

However, with the school term now well under way, decisive action to cease computing for the time being has now been taken.

In a letter to parents of pupils affected, head teacher Carol Ann Penrose pointed out that nationally schools struggle to recruit to computing — which she described as a “shortage subject”.

“We have advertised twice (and are currently advertising again) for a computing teacher, however received zero applicants for the last two adverts and therefore do not hold out much hope for much change this time,” she wrote.

“Given the need for certificate classes to be engaged in working on their curriculum as early as possible we feel our only option at the point is to re-course your child from their chosen computing course.

“This is not done lightly but there seems to be no option for the reasons outlined above.

“We are still trying to find a solution to the problem and if in the unlikely event that we are successful in recruiting at some point in the year the subject will once again be available next session.

“I appreciate this is not a good situation for us to be in as a school and the ideal would be for your child to be progressing in courses that they have chosen, however I feel we have no option.

“Rest assured I have tried many.”

Peter McNaughton, head of service at Fife Council, said: “We are all aware that there is a national teacher shortage.

“Computing is one of the subjects that is particularly badly affected.

“Lochgelly High School, through a particular set of circumstances, has been left in a challenging position at short notice.

“We are actively seeking to recruit a computing teacher.

“In the meantime, we are taking every possible measure to ensure that any impact on our pupils is minimised.

“The head teacher and staff are working hard and creatively to seek solutions for the children affected by these circumstances.”

Union’s concerns over teaching vacancies

Fife members of Scotland’s largest teaching union says it has a number of concerns about the current staffing situation across the region.

After Fife EIS raised the issue earlier this year, publicity officer David Farmer stressed that it had noted efforts by Fife Council to address the shortage but remain unconvinced the problem has been solved.

“The deployment of 140 probationers in primary and 90 probationers in secondary will have plugged some of the gaps,” he said.

“However, that potentially means we are back to square one next summer.

“Furthermore, Fife EIS does have concerns about how many probationers are employed by Fife after their probationary period is over and the length of time it takes to process such appointments.”

Shelagh McLean, head of education in Fife, maintained officials had not claimed to have solved the issue of teacher numbers, but pointed out that recent activity had reduced the number of vacancies in Fife.

“However, these numbers are a moving feast as people retire, leave the profession or find jobs in other authorities…while we are recruiting — we can only ever report a snapshot in time,” she noted.

“As of today we have two core vacancies in primary schools and 30 in secondary.

“And 88% of our current probationers who applied for a post in Fife have been offered one.

“As well as recruiting new teachers we have also reviewed school rolls for the year ahead and transferred some staff to best match the needs of schools across Fife. This is an annual exercise.

“We’re continuing efforts to attract more teachers into the Kingdom.”

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