Recently retired teachers are being urged to return to work in a bid to fill Dundee’s classrooms.
The city council has been forced to ask former staff to consider resuming their duties after seeing newly recruited teachers poached from under its noses by rival local authorities.
A total of 22 teachers who had accepted posts in the city called off at the 11th hour. They chose to accept offers in other towns and cities, causing a huge headache for Dundee’s primary and secondary schools.
The development has compounded staffing problems already apparent in the city, with 44 permanent teachers absent on maternity leave.
A national shortage of permanent and supply teachers has led to increasingly frantic competition for staff with increased wages, accommodation and relocation bonuses all on offer.
At one point, the city had the country’s highest number of vacancies, with more than 100 posts remaining unfilled.
Education director Michael Wood admitted the local authority is being forced to think outside of the box to address short-term concerns.
One idea is to attempt to attract retired staff back on to the supply list, with former science teachers being aggressively targeted.
“We have revisited our entire supply list, contacting every teacher on it and taking off those who have no desire to be on the list any longer.
“The council has also recruited new supply teachers, particular in primary, but there are a finite number of staff out there looking for new posts.
“We have contacted every teacher who retired and asked them if they would be willing to come back and join our supply list.”
Dundee City Council was unable to say how many recently retired teachers had been approached or how many had agreed to join the supply list.
Mr Wood added: “We worked tirelessly over the summer to recruit, recruit, recruit, but just days before the schools came back we had 22 teachers 13 at secondary level and nine at primary calling us to say even though they had accepted jobs with us, they were not coming. That makes it extremely difficult for us to plan and ensure that all posts are filled.
“In addition to those recruitment issues, we currently have 44 permanent teachers on maternity leave. Nonetheless, I think that we have weathered the storm here. I am looking towards next year when I hope to see us redress the balance and fill these teaching posts.”
Councillor Stewart Hunter, education convener, added: “There are particular challenges but we are in a better place than we were last year and in a better place than many other local authorities.”