High school hit by staffing crisis

You do not need to be a grade A mathematics student to realise the staffing numbers at Falkirk High School add up to one big problem.

Parents contacted The Falkirk Herald this week to voice their concerns over the lack of teachers at the Westburn Avenue school and claimed it had now reached crisis point.

Melanie Brookes said: “I attended the S3 parents’ night for my son at Falkirk High School, in advance of him picking his National 5 subjects to take in his forthcoming S4 year.

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“I was shocked to learn one of the only two Computing Science teachers is leaving the school to take up a promoted post elsewhere, meaning there will only one teacher left to look after the entire school population of over 1000 pupils.

“So we are left with the dilemma of whether to take the risk of my son studying N5 Computing Science with, potentially, only 50 per cent teaching available, or for him to switch subjects to something else which is better staffed.

“Our elder daughter is in S5 and about to sit her Higher Computing Science prelim exam next month. She is now left in the very worrying position of having no teacher for the remainder of her course, with potential support from the one remaining teacher for only 50 per cent of the time.

“This will undoubtedly damage her chances of getting a good grade in her final exam, through no fault of her own.”

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As well as shortages in computing science, there is also a lack of staff in Modern Languages, Mathematics and Science.

Another parent, who did not want to be named, said: “Since my daughter returned to Falkirk High after the summer it has felt like the school is going to ruin. She hasn’t seen her form teacher all year, her home economics class teacher would change from one week to the next.

“A lot of the time her classes are being covered by teachers from other departments. Some classes she has said she is being taught things they have already gone over previously because the teachers don’t know what they have and haven’t done.

“The final straw came with a letter from the languages department saying that S1, S2 and S3 will all have their language classes cut. Two out of the three periods will be taken by a language teacher with the third being taken by a random teacher from another department. This is because of staff shortages. They have failed to get a post filled since before the summer and now another teacher has had to go on maternity leave.”

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Falkirk Council Children’s Services stated teacher staffing was a problem throughout the country at the moment, not just in Falkirk.

A spokesman said: “All education authorities are having difficulties in finding suitable supply staff across a variety of subject areas. Currently there is a shortfall in the number of teachers able to temporally fill the various vacancies we have at Falkirk High and we are using the available resources as widely as we can across the school.

“Every school does what it can to provide the most stable learning environment for its pupils over the long term and this can mean using teachers from other subject areas where necessary.

“Staff in all our schools work very hard to do the best for their pupils and we have kept parents informed of this ongoing situation.”