Published: 31/12/2017 07:00 - Updated: 28/12/2017 10:27

'Knee-jerk' jibe over Strathconon school crisis


Strathconon school
A 'temporary' solution has been found to staffing problems at Strathconon Primary.

COUNCIL chiefs are being urged to keep parents in a remote Ross-shire community in the loop after anger at a "knee-jerk reaction" which left pupils facing an unsettling flit.

Furious parents hit out last week after it emerged pupils at Strathconon Primary faced switching to Marybank Primary 12 miles away because of a staffing crisis. The news was relayed in notes home to parents just days before the school was due to break for the holidays.

But in a fresh twist, Highland Council said it had found a temporary fix for the school, which has seventeen primary and two nursery pupils.

Both teachers were due to move on at the end of the term and replacements had not been found.

But then the council said it had identified teaching staff for the new term and it will be able to open as normal. Parents were told at a meeting with head of education, Jim Steven.

Bill Alexander, director of care and learning, said: "The challenge of teacher recruitment remains a high priority. We will continue to develop new initiatives and work with the Scottish Government and other partners. We have continued to work to recruit staff for Strathconon. Last week, we were forced to conclude that this didn’t look possible, and we needed time to put alternative arrangements in place elsewhere, and to give parents good notice.

"We have continued working on this though, and I’m pleased we’ve now been successful – but these are only temporary arrangements. We are still seeking to appoint permanent staff in the new year, as we discussed with parents."

One full-time supply teacher and one promoted member of staff working will plug the gap, giving a staffing complement of 1.5 teachers.

Parent Lynsey Stewart said: "We would like to see Highland Council be more proactive in their recruitment process, they seem to wait until disaster strikes before addressing situations and coming up with reactive, knee-jerk solutions.

"We would like to see more clarity and transparency but most of all we would like to be included and consulted in any processes which are for the benefit and well being of the children in our community. We hope that the council learns from this and communication improves between themselves and the communities in which they serve and that we are successful in recruiting sustainable members of staff."

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