Short­age of teachers laid bare as half of train­ing places empty

●Lack of can­di­dates in maths ex­poses re­cruit­ment prob­lems in key sub­jects

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By TOM PETERKIN

The ex­tent of Scot­land’s class­room re­cruit­ment cri­sis has been re­vealed with new fig­ures show­ing more than half of the tar­get num­ber of train­ing places for maths teachers are empty. Data pro­duced by the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing body – the Scottish Fund­ing Coun­cil (SFC) – has iden­ti­fied a short­age of teachers in key sub­jects.

The SFC had set the goal of re­cruit­ing 237 stu­dent maths teachers, but this year’s fig­ures show that there are only 112 such stu­dents, 47 per cent of the tar­get num­ber.

The num­ber study­ing to be tech­nol­ogy teachers is also less than 30 per cent of the goal set by Scot­land’s ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing body.

There are 1,226 peo­ple in Scot­land cur­rently study­ing to be­come sec­ondary school teachers – 70 per cent of the SFC’S over­all in­take tar­get for 2017/18. But only 36 of this group are train­ing to be tech­no­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teachers – 29 per cent of the tar­get of 124.

The SFC had also wanted to at­tract five peo­ple to study to be­come Gaelic teachers, but has failed to re­cruit any stu­dents to this.

Mean­while, some sub­ject ar­eas are over­sub­scribed, with uni­ver­si­ties hav­ing 122 per cent of the tar­get num­ber of his­tory teachers and 115 per cent of the tar­get num­ber of mod­ern stud­ies teachers.

New routes into teach­ing boosted the num­ber of stu­dent teachers by 204, pro­vi­sional data showed.

De­spite that, the num­ber of stu­dent teachers was still be­low the num­ber the SFC had set, with 3,861 peo­ple train­ing to teach in ei­ther pri­mary or sec­ondary schools, com­pared to a tar­get of 4,058.

The fig­ures were re­leased by the Scottish Gov­ern­ment at the same time as sta­tis­tics show­ing there are a to­tal of 536 va­can­cies in Scot­land’s schools, in­clud­ing head teacher and de­pute head teacher posts.

Of th­ese, 268 jobs had been un­filled for at least three months, ac­cord­ing to the data.

Schools are look­ing for 77 prin­ci­pal teachers, 29 head or de­pute head teachers and 71 maths teachers, as well as 65 English teachers and 19 com­put­ing teachers.

The maths teacher short­age has been high­lighted in high-pro­file cases. Ear­lier this year Trin­ity Acad­emy in Ed­in­burgh asked par­ents for help af­ter be­ing un­able to fill two maths

teach­ing va­can­cies. In March, par­ents at Blair­gowrie High School – in ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary John Swin­ney’s con­stituency – re­ceived a let­ter from its head­teacher urg­ing par­ents with a maths de­gree to help out as the school strug­gled to fill two va­can­cies.

Mean­while, pupils and staff at Pre­ston Lodge High School in East Loth­ian last month ap­peared in a video in an at­tempt to fill 2.5 va­cant maths teacher posts.

Con­ser­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion spokes­woman Liz Smith said: “Some as­pects of th­ese sta­tis­tics are deeply wor­ry­ing, most im­por­tantly the strug­gle that many sec­ondary schools are fac­ing when it comes to at­tract­ing a suf­fi­cient num­ber of qual­i­fied teachers in key sub­ject ar­eas such as maths, English and com­put­ing.

“In re­cent months, we have seen pri­vate ap­peals be­ing made by some head teachers, par­ents and even pupils to find teachers who can ur­gently fill va­can­cies and en­sure that pupils are prop­erly taught.”

The Tory MSP added: “This con­cern about short­ages is more proof that teacher work force plan­ning is not work­ing well enough.”

Labour’s ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Iain Gray also voiced his con­cerns, say­ing: “Par­ents, pupils and teachers know all too well there’s a re­cruit­ment cri­sis, and while John Swin­ney re­peat­edly says ed­u­ca­tion is his num­ber one pri­or­ity, th­ese new fig­ures show that he has again failed to meet his tar­get when re­cruit­ing to teacher train­ing. The SNP has failed to take the real ac­tion re­quired to solve the teacher cri­sis.

“In­stead John Swin­ney in­tro­duces un­wanted re­forms to cen­tralise schools and cut bud­gets. What schools need is more fund­ing, more, bet- ter paid teachers and more re­sources.”

The Scottish Gov­ern­ment stressed the per­ma­nent teacher va­cancy rate is 1.6 per cent of the teach­ing work­force.

Min­is­ters also ex­pect that by the end of Jan­uary 2018, 281 stu­dents will have taken up one of the 11 new routes into teach­ing.

Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney said: “Th­ese new routes are de­signed to en­cour­age peo­ple from a whole range of back­grounds to con­sider teach­ing as a pro­fes­sion.

It is dis­ap­point­ing the tar­gets set for some sec­ondary sub­jects have 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, we ex­pect to see the num­ber of peo­ple train­ing as teachers con­tin­u­ing to rise.

“While teacher re­cruit­ment is a mat­ter for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, we recog­nise that chal­lenges re­main and have made £88 mil­lion 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.”

PIC­TURE: JOHN DEVLIN

0 Teacher train­ing num­bers are well be­low tar­get fig­ures, fu­elling a grow­ing cri­sis in Scot­land’s class­rooms

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