A HIGH school in the constituency of Scottish education secretary John Swinney has sent a letter to parents asking for help teaching maths.
Blairgowrie High School, Perth and Kinross, is experiencing chronic staffing problems just weeks before students are due to sit vital exams.
In a letter to parents, headteacher Bev Leslie wrote that one maths teacher was absent from school whilst another had recently left.
She added that the school had had no success recruiting replacement and were forced to make the “highly unusual” request of asking parents to help.
The revelation is likely to acutely embarrass Mr Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North.
He recently came under fire for nationwide teacher shortages and announced funds to train an additional 371 teachers last month.
The letter to parents, sent last week, stated: “Any parents with a Maths or maths related degree who would be interested in supporting our pupils in the short-term, please contact either myself or Mrs Hill.
“This is a high unusual request however I am sure you will appreciate, given the current circumstances, we are looking at creative short-term measures.”
The letter explained: “Since my last letter to you on 26 January, there has been little success in recruiting for vacancies and we have had a further departure.
“Mr Egan (Maths) left on 27 January to take up a position in Fife. We have been unable to secure the services of a supply teacher and our second advert has recently closed.
“Interviews will take place on 22 March. I am optimistic that we will manage to recruit at that point in time. We have also recruited a teacher who will start with us in August.”
Pupils sitting external exams start testing in May, with the first maths exam taking place on May 5.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Many pupils will be facing vital exams in a few weeks’ time without the support they need.
“It really is a sign of desperation that the school is asking for parents to help oversee classes – on no level can this be satisfactory.”
Writing on social media, parent Ian Gillan said: “One of the largest schools in John’s constiuencey is Blairgowrie High School where 2 of my children are pupils.
“A new low was reached today when I got a letter from the school informing me that the Head of the Maths dept is off and there are now at least four other vacancies.
“The school are asking any parent with a maths or related degree who can help out to get in touch. So there you have it 21st Century Scotland under SNP rule and we need parents to come in and teach at secondary school in essential subjects.”
A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council said: “We do not comment on individual members of staff; however, we would like to reassure all parents and pupils that we have processes in place to ensure there is appropriate class cover to minimise disruption to learning.
“The request from the Headteacher for parental support is not a request for parents to teach a class or provide classroom support; their help would be limited to after-school support study activities only.”
The Scottish Government said in a statement said they worked with local authorities to increase teacher numbers this year, with an additional 253 teachers in the Scottish classrooms.
The statement added: “The Deputy First Minister has invited a number of new routes into teaching to be developed to increase the availability of quality teachers entering the profession more quickly.”