Two thirds of Scottish teachers blame staffing shortages for lack of subject choice

Written by Gemma Fraser on 7 May 2019 in News

The survey of teachers will be presented to MSPs as part of the inquiry into school subject choice

Image credit: Mark Bonica

A survey of teachers in Scotland has found two-thirds blame staffing problems for the reduction in subject choice in schools.

As part of a Scottish Parliament inquiry into subject choice, teachers were asked to give their views on what influences subject availability.

Despite not being an official option on the survey, almost 350 out of 500 teachers cited staffing-related issues as the main reason for decreasing subject choice in secondary schools.

The report, produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), will be presented to members of Holyrood’s education committee on Wednesday.

One teacher responded to the survey by saying that “cuts to staffing and resources are at the core of this”.

Another said: “I cannot stress enough how staffing levels have an influence in pupil choices.”

And one of the respondents said: “This year I have seen many pupils complain about the lack of choice of subjects in the senior phase due to a lack of teachers being available as management rearrange the columns to fit with staffing and numbers available. This has meant that pupils are pigeon-holed into doing subjects they don't necessarily want to do and missing out on subjects they do.”

It has previously emerged that pupils in S4 are commonly only getting a range of five or six different subjects instead of the traditional eight they got through Standard Grades.

The report states: “Analysis of the responses found that ‘staffing’ was the most commonly cited factor influencing subject choice” and continued: “Overall aspects of staffing were mentioned nearly 350 times by respondents, although this was not a theme suggested through the question wording.”

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “The SNP government keeps avoiding the reasons why subject choice is increasingly restricted for Scottish pupils.

“But now teachers have exposed the truth.

“Even though it wasn’t an option in the survey, two-thirds of them have pointed the finger at teacher numbers and problems with recruitment.

“No doubt, had the option been included in the survey that figure would have been even higher.

“The SNP has been in charge of education for 12 years and has to take full responsibility for this.

“As Professor Jim Scott said in his recent evidence, there is now the risk that a whole generation of Scottish pupils will not have the best educational experience at school.”

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