New fast track for STEM teacher training

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 November 2016 in News

Scottish Government is warned plan to recruit more teachers will need greater investment

John Swinney and Education Scotland - credit Scottish Government

Plans to recruit more graduates to the teaching profession in Scotland include a fast track scheme for prospective teachers of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The proposals would see post-graduate education combined with the probation year in teaching.

But Scotland’s largest teaching union the EIS warned against “short cuts” which would undermine the standards for the profession.


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Education Secretary John Swinney announced £1m investment in the new proposals, which also include incentives to lure back teachers who quit the profession in the wake of restructuring and a lack of full-time opportunities.

“We will not change the standard we expect new recruits to attain before they become fully-fledged teachers, but we are determined to broaden the routes into the classroom and speed up the process,” Swinney said.

“This is exactly the sort of collaborative approach we need if we are to realise our ambition of achieve excellence and equity in Scottish education, and I am pleased to support it with £1 million from our Attainment Scotland Fund.”

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said the union supported a drive to attract more graduates to the profession.

However, he said: “Where the EIS would have serious concerns is over the suggestion that postgraduate teacher education and the subsequent school-based induction period be compressed into a single year.

“A key strength of the Scottish system is an all-graduate teaching profession, coupled with a guaranteed induction year in a school to provide all new teachers with practical experience to complement their theoretical study.”

The £1m investment comes after years of decline, according to figures obtained by the Times Educational Supplement Scotland, which show spending on initial teacher training £13m lower than it was seven years ago.

Ross Greer MSP, Education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said the funding fell short.

“Investing just 0.13 per cent of the £750 million Attainment Fund suggests Scottish Ministers haven't yet grasped how important it is to give teachers more time to teach,” he said.

Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said: “The SNP has cut over 4,000 teachers from our schools, and axed hundreds of millions of pounds from the council budgets which fund them.

“Whatever the merit of some of these schemes, £1 million diverted from the Attainment Fund is not going to solve our teacher recruitment crisis, or address falling standards in literacy, numeracy and science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.”

The eight Scottish universities who provide initial teacher education programmes have designed the new programmes to offer new ways to enter the profession.

Dr Morag Redford, Chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education, said: “The 11 programmes use the expertise in each University to provide a national approach to teacher education.” 

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