One third of the pupils at a Moray school had to remain home with a sickness bug last week – and now Moray Council have closed its doors as teaching staff have been decimated with the same bug.
The local authority are highlighting a long-term issue over the availability of supply teachers as a major issue in the closure of St Peter’s RC school in Buckie.
An announcement on the closure of the school on Monday was made late on Sunday when it became clear that what classroom cover that was available in Moray had already been allocated to other schools.
Buckie councillor Gordon Cowie said that there had been 217 supply teachers available for Moray primary schools in 2012 – but that had fallen to just 106 this month. A Moray Council spokesman said last night: “St Peter’s primary school in Buckie was forced to close today due to lack of staff.
“A sickness bug hit the school last week, causing about 30 pupils of the 90-strong roll to be kept home – inevitably the bug has been transmitted to staff and a number have reported in sick today.
“No cover was available to meet the numbers needed to continue with classes so the head teacher and director of education and social care made the decision to close the school.”
Councillor Cowie told the P&J: “I can’t recall the last time a school was closed because of illness – we are struggling to fill positions, not just in Moray but across the whole of the north-east and supply teachers are in strong demand.”
Earlier this month Aberdeen City Council highlighted the teacher shortage in the north east when they offered all their staff the opportunity to retrain as primary school teachers.
Council bosses said that they would pay up to £1,320 for each person who took up the offer with a guaranteed job at the end of their training. Those interested would be offered a place on an 18-month course at Aberdeen University that would also allow them to continue in their current posts.
Moray’s director of education, Laurence Findlay, said that action would be needed in Moray to address the long-term issues facing schools throughout Scotland, insisting that his discussions with colleagues at other local authorities made it clear it was not just a problem for Moray.
St Peter’s is expected to reopen its doors today.