With students at Prince Andrew School (PAS) currently revising for GCSE examinations it is unfortunate timing that the school's only dedicated teacher within the maths department has been off work with illness for a couple of weeks.
Director of Education & Employment (DEE), Colin Moore, has been made aware of concerns raised by parents regarding this. Headteacher Abraham has informed parents of the maths teacher shortage in his newsletter, informing them contingency cover arrangements are being put in place.
"The situation is not new" said Moore. "I was made aware of shortages in January/February before I came to the island and it's something we've been working to address with international recruitment ads just closed for maths teachers. There has been plenty of interest expressed via Kedell Worboys, St Helena Government UK Representative, but we'll see how many actual applications we have shortly." Interviews are expected to take place next week. "The issue wasn't as acute but it's been brought to a head by our maths teacher being ill."
Moore admits in the area of maths teaching the school is stretched, especially now at exam time. "In an ideal world we would want to have a full complement of maths teachers available to provide advice around revision programs at this critical time."
The DEE said everything is being done to reduce the effect on pupils. "We have some remarkably skilled teachers who can teach extremely well and are doing a good job providing cover." The Deputy DEE, Beverley Francis, has also been helping out teaching maths for the past few weeks.
"There is no question we need to increase the number of maths teachers" said Moore. "A shortage of maths and physics teachers is a problem, not only on St Helena, but also in the UK. They are difficult positions to fill. I would like to pay tribute to teachers at PAS who have gone the extra mile, teaching additional classes and providing cover in order to maximise opportunities for the children to learn."
Maths exams are scheduled to take place on 11th, 13th and 19th June.