Pupils faced with “ghost school” as staff go off sick

Quarter of the 107 staff took the day off

A SCOTS high school lost a quarter of its staff to sickness in one day.

A total of 23 teachers out of 107 at Dunfermline High, Fife, were struck down by maladies including colds, chest infections, loss of voice, and ‘flu.

Bewildered pupils had to be taught en masse in the assembly and dinner halls because there were not enough supply teachers to cover the absences last week.

Brian Blanchflower, the school’s rector, admitted: “Over the last couple of weeks we have had a very high level of staff absence due to illness. One day we had 23 staff absent.

“We have had real difficulty in locating subject-specialist supply staff from the Fife Council supply list, especially at very short notice.”


Mr Blanchflower claimed the school had coped “quite well” in what he described as “extraordinary” circumstances.

“Some pupils have been placed at desks and chairs in the assembly hall [and] provided with work by their subject departments,” he added.

But not all parents are happy. One mother, who has two children at the school, said: “There was not enough teachers and children were told just to get on with their work.

“Even when they got into the hall the teachers were saying: ‘Why are you here? Is your teacher off today as well?’.

“The teachers don’t seem to know who’s off or what’s happening.

“I just think it’s a bit of a farce when they are doing Highers.”

Another parent complained: “Someone’s at fault here. Whether it’s budgets or whatever, it’s a joke and shouldn’t be happening – they can’t even get a substitute teacher out.”


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  1. The problem here is that supply teachers’ pay was cut by 50% in August by the Scottish Government. We are now asked to come in to do general supply, working just as hard as we did before the summer, for only half the pay.

    We must therefore conclude that either
    a) we are thoroughly worthless and undervalued or
    b) the pupils are not important or
    c) maybe we should come in and put in half effort for our half pay?

    The “shortage” of supply teachers has come about purely as a result of the cut in pay and is likely to continue until our pay is reinstated. It takes five years at university to train as a teacher in Scotland. I now earn less than I did as a new graduate 20 years ago. The schools are absolutely not at fault here.

  2. PS If any school wanted to offer me a general supply contract earning full salary for my 100% effort I would gladly go in.

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