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Monthly News Bulletin

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Stranraer Academy Staff Crisis

STRANRAER Academy has been hit by a new staff crisis. Head teacher Norman Dawson told the Parent Council that the situation had deteriorated even further since the start of the year.

Both Mr Dawson and principal teachers have had to cover extra classes. And he admitted class trips might have to be cancelled because the school could not afford to send staff away with children.

The Academy is finding it impossible to fill vacant positions with either no applicant for the job or in one case an applicant not even turning-up for an interview.

The science, modern languages, technical, maths, computing and art and design departments have all been hit. An Education Department spokesman this week said they were aware of the concerns and were working with the school to try to alleviate the problem. But they ruled out an inventive scheme to try to tempt some new teachers to Stranraer.

Mr Dawson told the Parent Council: "We are trying hard to be proactive about this."

Vice-chairman Robert Downie branded the shortages a crisis and has written to local councillors urging them to consider a relocation package as an incentive to attract new staff.

Mr Dawson admitted the situation had become worse and outlined the current shortfall. There were no applications for the post of Principal Teacher in Science and the post had now been re-advertised and also advertised in Ireland.

Two people had been on the short-leet for the Modern Languages post, but one withdrew before interview and the other person failed to turn up.

Mr Dawson has written to Stirling University to see if anyone graduating at Christmas would be available in January.

Again a post in Technical had failed to attract any applications and would be re-advertised.

There were no applications for a post of Maths teacher, but the teacher, who had handed in her notice, was going to be staying on slightly longer and the post would be re-advertised. In Computing, Art and Design there were three members of staff off on long-term sick.

Mr Dawson admitted the situation was putting extra strain on staff. He said staff had also been away at the first year break to Newcastle and in the future they might have to reconsider if it was going to be possible to still run the popular trip.

Mr Dawson said that the school often benefited from probationer teachers who ticked the box on their application, stating they were prepared go "anywhere" for their first year.

These probationers got a incentive and last year six of the seven probationers who went to Stranraer Academy ended up staying. A spokesperson for Dumfries and Galloway Council's Education Department said: "We are certainly aware of the concerns and have worked with the school management to try to address these concerns.

"A number of posts are vacant but are the subject of a recruitment process at the moment.

"We do not currently offer a relocation package since Stranraer is not the only school which experiences difficulties in recruiting staff."

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