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Can universities find over 4,000 aspiring teachers?

The targets for student-teacher recruitment have been published - here, we look at the key figures

Teacher shortage: Can unis find over 4000 aspiring teachers?

Next year, according to figures published by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Scottish government has set universities the task of recruiting over 4,000 students on to teacher-education courses.

With the teacher shortage continuing to blight schools, particularly in certain parts of the country and subjects, we take a look at the figures.

How many teachers does the Scottish government plan to train in the coming academic year?

4,145. In total it hopes to see 1,940 students embarking on primary undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education courses; 1,990 going onto secondary teacher education courses the bulk of which are postgraduate courses (1,510); and over 200 being trained via combined degrees which allow students to study for instance English or history to degree level alongside teaching.


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Which secondary subjects have the highest intake targets?

Maths and English, predictably, with targets of 225 and 218 respectively. Then it’s chemistry (150); biology and home economics (134); physics (122) and modern languages (113).

How realistic do the targets look?

They are broadly equivalent to the targets for the current academic year when the government aimed to train 4,130 teachers so like this year we are probably going to see under-recruitment in subjects such as maths, technological education and home economics. However, the government will be hoping the new secondary route for home economics teachers at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University will deliver. It has 20 places – but that still leaves another 114 to fill.

How many teacher-education institutions are there?

There are now 11. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland already runs an undergraduate course for secondary teachers but as of the coming academic year, it will also take on the University of Strathclyde’s postgraduate music teacher places. Edinburgh Napier University, meanwhile, joins the list of universities delivering initial teacher education courses for the first time this coming academic year and will have 50 postgraduate secondary places for biology, chemistry, maths and physics teachers. Queen Margaret University, as well as starting to training home economics teachers in the coming academic year, is going to also start delivering an undergraduate primary course which will aim to recruit 120 teachers in its first year.

What about the new routes into the profession aimed at tackling the teacher shortage?

There are now 13 of these – including the University of Edinburgh two-year master's that trains teachers to work across primary and secondary, which has been allocated 35 places in the coming year. However, while the SFC lists the new routes, it does not say how many places have been allocated to each one. This year (2018-19) the alternative routes attracted almost 40 per cent fewer students than was hoped, but it is early days for these courses.

Which university has the largest number of places?

The University of Strathclyde is Scotland's largest initial teacher education provider (1091 places); followed by the University of Glasgow (638 places); and the University of Aberdeen (548 places).

*Source: Scottish Funding Council, Intakes to the controlled subject of Initial Teacher Education in universities for 2019-20

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