Tayside and Central Scotland

Leaders clash over Perthshire school's maths teacher plea

Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon was asked about the letter to Blairgowrie High parents during FMQs

A letter asking parents of children at Blairgowrie High School if they could help with maths teaching has been raised at First Minister's Questions.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said a "furious" parent had contacted a Tory MSP over the plea.

She said it was evidence that Nicola Sturgeon "can't sort out issues in our local schools".

The first minister said the school wanted to identify "properly-registered" teachers.

The letter sent out to parents read: "Any parents with a maths or related degree who would be interested in supporting pupils, please contact myself or depute head Mrs Hill.

"This is a highly unusual request. However, I am sure you will appreciate, given the current circumstances, we are looking at creative short-term measures."

Days after the request was made, Blairgowrie High School confirmed that maths teachers from other schools in Perth and Kinross would be providing temporary cover and that a new maths teacher would start in August.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Maths teachers from other schools in Perth and Kinross will be provide temporary cover at Blairgowrie High School

In the Holyrood chamber on Thursday, Ms Davidson accused Ms Sturgeon of "putting her job to one side" and "threatening to take Scotland back to another divisive referendum on independence".

Ms Davidson asked: "When the first minister meets parents who are frustrated in the decline in standards in schools, how does she explain to them another referendum will help their child?"

Ms Sturgeon replied that her education secretary John Swinney had said "many times" that there were "challenges right now" with teacher recruitment in different parts of the country in specific subjects.

She said: "That's why we have increased the intake of students to initial teacher training, it's why we have expanded the range of routes into teaching to make the process faster for these individuals.

"The situation at Blairgowrie High School is seeking to identify teachers that are properly registered to come in and teach maths there.

"And of course the law says that teachers have to be properly registered.

"We will continue to address the challenges in our education system."