Many teacher training positions lying vacant, figures show

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 November 2017 in News

Scottish Funding Council figures reveal a lack of interest in teaching key subjects which are seeing shortages in schools

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Over a quarter of university places for trainee secondary teachers in Scotland are unfilled, figures from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) have revealed.

The total number of PGDE Secondary students starting this year is 1,226, only 70 per cent of the 1,750 target.

The shortages in trainee teachers, especially in maths and technical education mean the figures are well short of the SFC's overall intake target for 2017/18.

However, social sciences like history and modern studies are oversubscribed.

Meanwhile there are 1,259 PGDE Primary students, which is over the target of 1,186.

The Scottish Government's attempts to give new routes into teaching account for 204 of the overall numbers.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he was disappointed some of the targets had not been met.

"However, alongside the £20,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) bursaries I recently announced for career changers and the increased interest we have seen among undergraduates as a result of our recruitment campaign, we expect to see the number of people training as teachers continuing to rise," he said.

"While teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we recognise that challenges remain and have made £88m available this year so schools can access the right number of teachers, with the right mix of skills.

"We are also putting in place a national approach to the recruitment of teachers from outside Scotland."

Labour's Iain Gray said the SNP had "failed to take any real action" to address the problem.

"There are hundreds of vacancies in Scotland’s schools, some of which will take up to three years to fill. Under the SNP there are 4,000 fewer teachers, class sizes are rising and parents are being asked to stand in as temporary teachers," he said

The SFC figures come after reports the charity Teach First has pulled out of bidding for a £250,000 tender to design and deliver a new fast-track route into teaching.

The organisation, which has put graduates into classrooms with only a few weeks training in England, said it could not meet the Scottish Government's expected timeline.

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