PARENTS have warned the Scottish Government that schools across the country are facing serious shortages of teachers.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said primaries and secondaries were dealing with a lack of subject specialists, supply staff and headteachers.

The warning came in a letter to Education Secretary Michael Russell following a survey of SPTC members.

Eileen Prior, the organisation's executive director, wants an urgent overhaul of the way teacher numbers are monitored and recruited.

She said: "As it stands we are dealing with a situation where local authorities are finding it difficult to recruit teachers and school leaders, both on supply and permanent contracts.

"From our perspective it appears there is something fundamentally dysfunctional in our manpower planning system.

"We continue to be in a situation about which SPTC is concerned, simply because of the impact on the learning of young people in our classrooms, on the effective running of schools and on the efficacy of the local authority service."

The SPTC represents almost 2,000 parent councils and parent teacher associations across the country and the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country's largest teaching union, echoed the warnings.

A spokesman said: "The lack of availability of supply cover is an issue for schools across Scotland, and is particularly acute in some subject areas and in certain areas of the country.

"This lack of supply cover increases workload pressure on teachers when colleagues are ill, and can have a negative impact on the learning experience of pupils.

"There is, however, no single simple solution and it will require significant long-term planning and investment to overcome the difficulties."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Every available source of information suggests employment prospects for newly qualified teachers are increasing and have been doing so since autumn 2010, when we took action to address supply.

"Teacher unemployment in Scotland is the lowest in the UK and the Scottish Government has increased the number of student teacher places by 880 over the last three years.

"We are also working closely with councils, who are responsible for teacher recruitment, to make sure there are enough teachers to meet the demands of primary and secondary schools across the country."

The SPTC survey found shortages of teachers in English, the sciences and home economics with staff "almost universally difficult to find". There were also regional issues in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.

The recruitment of head- teachers was a concern in primary schools and the Catholic sector, with one council telling the SPTC that an advertised post had attracted no applicants.

On the issue of supply, the SPTC said that "hardly without exception" local authorities had found it difficult to find suitable staff.

The survey found many were either bringing back retired teachers, using council quality improvement officers and deploying headteachers and deputy heads as cover.

In some cases school were forced to hold "extended assembly-type activities" where no class teacher cover could be provided.

The SPTC said: "As a parents' organisation, we would like to hear how Scottish Government is taking an overview on all of these issues and working with the various organisations and bodies involved to resolve what is an untenable situation."