A Moray councillor has hit out at claims made by the Chief Executive of Moray Council that councillors had failed to predict the teacher shortage crisis in the region.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Sean Morton has said that Roddy Burns was wrong to claim in an interview with the Press and Journal newspaper on Thursday that councillors had not foreseen the situation arising where schools in Moray might have to be closed because of a failure to recruit new teachers.
Councillors were warned that the situation had reached a critical stage at a committee meeting on Wednesday – however, the SNP opposition group made it clear that concerns had been expressed and that it was the policies of the Independent administration which had brought about the crisis.
Now Councillor Morton has insisted that councillors had predicted the situation arising but were largely ignored. He said: “I’m afraid I have to respectfully disagree with Mr Burns’ statement.
“Why? Because on the 12th December 2013 I stood outside Mosstodloch Primary school and spoke to the Press & Journal. I made a call for more resources, more trainee teachers and a better deal from the SNP government for places like Moray that struggle to attract staff.
“The idea that no councillor predicted this crisis is simply not true. Some of us were very wise to the coming crisis more than a year ago and called for action. When the council administration doesn’t heed the warnings of the opposition – that’s on them.
“They didn’t listen to my warnings and neither did the SNP government. Now pupils look set to pay the price sadly unless they take action now.
“It’s not too late – the council needs to be honest with the government about the scale of the problem and request the help we need. The SNP government should care enough to answer their call.”
The issue reached the Scottish Parliament when a question was raised on Thursday by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant, who challenged the First Minister over what action the government was planning to assist local authorities in teacher recruitment.
Earlier this week the SNP government had said that £51million was available for teacher recruitment in Scotland – but to qualify for a share of that councils needed to first increase teacher numbers.
Ms Grant said Moray Council faced a dilemma in that they could not qualify for a share of that funding because of their difficulties in teacher recruitment, adding: “The problem is that it cannot recruit and because of this they will not qualify for this additional funding. This means the most in need of the funding are the least likely to benefit from it.”