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Ministers 'lose' 1,000 teachers

THE Scottish Executive has cut its estimate of the number of extra teachers needed over the next five years under the post-McCrone agreement by more than 1,000.

Initial calculations put the figure at 4,000 but revised estimates now suggest it is 2,954.

The new figure will be the baseline for the major teacher recruitment campaign due to be launched next week with the financial support of the unions and the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

A knock-on effect of significantly improved salaries is indeed a marked interest south of the border in teaching in Scotland. The GTC has confirmed that 893 people over the past three months alone have asked for forms to join its exceptional admissions register.

This figure is comparable to the number of teachers qualifying, Graham Dane, chair of the GTC's admissions' comittee, said on Wednesday.

Executive estimates for numbers entering initial training over the next few years also include calculations on teachers returning to the profession following the recruitment campaign.

But Professor Douglas Weir, dean of education at Strathclyde University, warned there was no substitute for initial training. Plans "based on the ebbs and flows of the economy and relative starting salaries north and south of the border" would not guarantee a steady supply.

Tony Finn, GTC education convener, said teacher shortages had been misrepresented by the media. Applications for primary teaching and many secondary subjects were healthy, although there were difficulties in some areas and in shortage subjects.

"Teaching is not being seen as the last option for graduates," Mr Finn stressed.

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