The number of teacher training places being funded by the Scottish government in 2017-18 is set to be the highest in a decade, in a bid to ease the teacher recruitment problems plaguing councils.
Education secretary John Swinney (pictured, centre) announced this morning at the Aberdeen Learning Festival that more than £3 million is being made available to train an extra 371 teachers in the next academic year.
This will bring the total intake of student teachers in 2017-18 to 3,861 – representing the sixth consecutive annual increase and the largest cohort since 2007-08, when the figure was 3,800.
However, whether the universities will succeed in filling the places on courses remains to be seen. TESS revealed recently that hundreds of places on teacher education courses were going unfilled, with key subjects including maths falling dramatically short of their targets.
In 2015-16, the Scottish government aimed to train 146 maths teachers on the most common route into secondary teaching – the one-year, postgraduate PGDE course – but only 76 of the places were filled.
Mr Swinney said: “We know our student teacher targets are stretching, which is why we are supporting universities to meet them through our new teacher recruitment campaign and £1 million from the Scottish Attainment Fund to develop new routes into the profession.
“I recognise that some councils have faced challenges with teacher recruitment. Today’s announcement is a further demonstration of the action this government is taking to help them attract more people into teaching and widen the pool of available talent.”
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the unveiling last week of a government teacher recruitment campaign aimed at addressing the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) specialists in secondary schools.
The £350,000 "Teaching Makes People" campaign will target university undergraduates studying Stem subjects, as well as people currently working in Stem industries.
The government also announced an investment of £1 million into 11 new routes into the profession last year, including help for former teachers looking to return and the targeting of countries known to have a surplus of teachers, like Ireland.