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Alness Academy staff absence challenge prompts change as Easter Ross parents promised update

By Hector MacKenzie

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Alness Academy is facing a staff shortage.
Alness Academy is facing a staff shortage.

THE absence of teachers from an Easter Ross secondary has prompted the local authority to step in to lead the school management team from the beginning of next week.

And parents and carers have been called in to Alness Academy for an update meeting following what has been described as "some staffing changes".

The Ross-shire Journal understands the situation has also prompted appeals from senior pupils who believe their education is suffering from a lack of teaching staff at a time many are preparing for important exams.

Highland Council's executive chief officer for education and learning – herself a former head teacher at Alness Academy – has written a joint letter with the school's parent council chair, Anna Salgado, in a bid to allay concerns and set out the plan of action for the immediate future.

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Nicky Grant said in her letter to parents and carers: 'We require your support at this time and look forward to welcoming you into our school.'
Nicky Grant said in her letter to parents and carers: 'We require your support at this time and look forward to welcoming you into our school.'

The letter states: "We write to update you on some staffing changes at Alness Academy due to key members of staff being absent.

"As of Monday, the local authority will lead the school management team with the support of experienced senior staff Les Mackay, Deirdre Murray, and Alan Auld.

"The focus of the team will be to provide stability and support to our young people and staff as well as provide reassurance to our parents and wider school community.

"With this in mind, Anna and I would like to invite you to a parental engagement evening on Wednesday 29th November at 7pm in Alness Academy.

"Senior staff from the council, our senior management team and some of our young people will be present to outline our planned priorities for our school as well as answer any questions that you may have."

The letter finishes: "We require your support at this time and look forward to welcoming you into our school."

The Ross-shire Journal understands that some pupils have also voiced their concerns about the lack of teaching staff in the school – particularly those who are preparing for important higher examinations.

Some have said that they have essentially been left to teach themselves at times.

The school has around 500 pupils and a catchment area that includes Ardross Primary, Bridgend Primary, Coulhill Primary, Kiltearn Primary and Obsdale Primary.

The school's most recently appointed head teacher is Craig Paterson who was appointed in Jamuary 2021. At the time if his appointment, education chairman John Finlayson said: “I would like to congratulate Craig Paterson on his new role as head teacher for Alness Academy. This is a new beginning for the school community as they enter this year with a new building and head teacher to lead and support them through their education experience. I wish him every success in his new role.”

Highland Council has been contacted for further comment.

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