HUNDREDS of teaching posts across Scotland remain unfilled less than two weeks before pupils return after the summer break.

Research by The Herald has revealed there are currently some 670 teacher vacancies at primaries and secondaries across Scotland.

Councils facing some of the most acute shortages include those in the North East such as Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray which have struggled to recruit in the past few years.

Highland and Glasgow also have higher numbers of unfilled vacancies, but Edinburgh, Dundee, Renfrewshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Stirling have hardly any vacancies.

Teacher recruitment has emerged as a significant issue of concern across the country with shortages in key subject areas such as science, maths and computing as well as in rural areas over the past three years.

The latest figures also show vacancies in music, languages, physical education and home economics.

As a result of the shortages the Scottish Government has proposed a number of fast-track teach training options to get new staff into schools more quickly.

Ministers have also offered bursaries to those wanting to switch career and teach in shortage Stem subjects.

However, teaching unions argue the main problem is pay and conditions with the increasing workload of staff putting off recruits at a time when salaries have declined in real terms.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union, said the figures confirmed ongoing difficulties.

He said: “Issues such as excessive workload demands, increasing class sizes and substantial cuts in teachers’ real-terms pay have contributed to an environment where many people no longer view teaching as an attractive career option.

“It is a matter of real concern that so many vacancies exist so close to the start of the new school year, meaning that a significant number of pupils will not have a permanent teacher for their class or may be taught in a class led by a non-subject specialist.

“The Scottish Government and local authorities must act to address these difficulties by agreeing a fair pay deal for teachers which can help in attracting and retaining highly qualified professionals.”

A spokesman for council umbrella body Cosla said some vacancies were likely to be filled over the next few weeks, but the issue was an ongoing concern.

He said: “Both councils and the Scottish Government recognise teacher vacancies as an on-going pressure and are working together to get a better understanding of the issue and how we can avoid such vacancies going forward.

“There seems to be a particular problem in rural areas that needs addressed whilst also recognising there are pressures on teacher recruitment in certain subjects that extend across the country.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said there was a recognition that some areas were facing challenges filling vacancies.

He said: “That is why we invested £88 million in 2017, resulting in 543 more teachers than last year – the second year in a row that numbers have increased.

“Our ambitious reform agenda is aimed at making teaching an attractive career choice with varied opportunities to develop.

“We have taken decisive action to recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign and have created new routes into the profession.

“We have also made bursaries of £20,000 available for career changers to train in priority subjects.”

Of the 32 councils contacted by The Herald a total of 28 responded directly with 657 teaching vacancies split between primary and secondary. The remaining councils are advertising around 10 jobs on the website My Job Scotland.