SCHOOLS are facing “significant” challenges in recruiting staff to their workforce, an education boss has warned.

Ian Budd, Flintshire Council’s chief officer for education and youth, said schools are finding it hard to recruit to a number of available posts.

The issue will be debated by members of the council’s education and youth overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday.

In a report ahead of the meeting, Mr Budd said the ratio of teachers to pupils was below the national average in primary and secondary schools, but above the average in special schools.

He said: “The data clearly shows the schools workforce in Flintshire has reduced over the last 12 months.

“What is difficult to determine is the reason for that reduction ie reductions due to budgetary pressures and schools adjusting their workforce or vacant posts that have not been permanently filled.”

Mr Budd said much of the difficulty in hiring reflected national trends.

He said: “Informal feedback from secondary schools in Flintshire reflects the national trend of difficulties in recruiting specialist teachers in the core subjects of maths, English, modern foreign languages and the sciences including physics and chemistry.

“A number of secondary schools reported that they failed to recruit successfully to these key posts and had to make alternative arrangements using agency supply staff or use non-specialist teachers to cover for extended periods.

“For some schools, recruiting Additional Learning Needs co-ordinators with the appropriate skills and experience has been difficult and this is more challenging when posts are temporary and/or part time.”

Mr Budd added many English medium schools reported difficulties in recruiting suitable Welsh teachers, and said the situation was exacerbated by being a ‘border’ county.

He said: “This is currently a significant area of concern with changes to the GCSE requirements for Welsh Second Language from September 2017 and the greater demands this will place on schools to deliver a new syllabus and achieve higher standards.

“The issue in Flintshire is the majority of the newly qualified teachers recruited into English medium primary and secondary schools are not bilingual and are classified as Welsh learners themselves.”

Mr Budd said recruitment issues in Flintshire’s Welsh medium schools were a “significant area of concern”.

He added feedback from the authority’s special schools confirmed there was also a recruitment issue in special schools because of the very specialised nature of the roles that are required there for both teachers and support staff.

Primary schools were also experiencing difficulties, Mr Budd said.

He said: “Primary schools are generally reporting difficulties in recruiting staff to support roles such as mid-day supervisors, caretakers, learning support assistants with appropriate knowledge of additional learning needs and staff to run before/after school provision with the necessary qualifications required by the regulatory body.

”They believe that these roles are perceived as unattractive due to their part time nature, low pay and restrictive hours.

”Heads in rural parts of the authority find recruiting to these roles particularly difficult where the low pay and geographical issues adding to travel times and costs appear to be making posts even more unattractive.”

The retention rate of teachers, which Mr Budd said was a national issue, was also a concern.