No serious proposal for ‘super school’ – but teaching crisis remains

Councillor Alexander - one secondary school per town should be the aim.
Councillor Alexander – one secondary school per town should be the aim.

MORAY’S CONTINUING TEACHER recruitment issues have been occupying many this week, with the local authority opening a debate by highlighting it is the number of schools rather than number of teachers that may be an issue.

That prompted misleading headlines about plans by Moray Council to create a single ‘super school’ at which all 12,000 pupils in the region might be taught.

Such a scheme was dismissed as ‘absurd’ by regional Green MSP John Finnie: “Moray Council need to stop wasting time with this obviously absurd plan and get back to finding a realistic solution that keeps schools at the heart of communities across Moray.

“The megaschool would have more pupils than there are undergraduates at the University of Aberdeen. On school days, it would be a town the same size as Forres. Children as young as four would have a commute of up to an hour each way.

“Not only would this be unworkable, it would tear schools and school children out of their communities. We need more community connection with our schools, not less.”

A leading member of the ruling coalition group at the local authority admitted that the ‘super school’ idea was not a serious proposal but a conversation starter – revealing that the rebirth of the idea of campus-style school organisation was the real reason for it being brought forward in the first place.

Forres Councillor and former school master George Alexander said: “The status quo is not sustainable so the answer must be in between and we need to find that. At the moment the education of children is being held back because they do not have the facilities – or are being taught by supply teachers not trained in that subject.

“I really am a big fan of one secondary school towns – it builds a community and shares resources, I really wish that it had happened in Elgin.”

Meanwhile another Region MSP, Labour’s Rhoda Grant, has been pressing the Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, on if the Scottish Government was doing enough to increase the number of people who choose teaching as a career.

Mrs Grant said: “I have been keeping an eye on this very real and concerning issue. In Moray for example, I know the Local Authority are now taking advantage of the General Teaching Council for Scotland Scheme which allows teachers trained out with Scotland, to teach in Scotland in a probationary period.

“Allied to that a local housing developer based in Moray has assisted with accommodation for Teachers. In Highland, I understand that there are particular issues recruiting Primary, Secondary and in particular Gaelic Teachers.

“Teachers play an important role in our children’s education, upbringing and development. It is vital that they get a proper foundation on which to build their learning experiences. To do that we need to make sure that our educational system is fit for the 21st century and that includes having the correct number of Teachers to teach the many subjects taught within our schools.”

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