The Scottish government’s new routes into teaching have attracted almost 40 per cent fewer students than was hoped, with close to 100 places going unfilled.
A total of 11 new routes into teaching were announced by the government in late 2016 in a bid to tackle the teacher recruitment crisis, with the promise that between them these new routes would deliver more than 200 new teachers into the profession.
However, new figures show that the so-called “alternative routes” into the profession – which include controversial fast-tracks for science technology, engineering, maths and home economics teachers – have attracted just 144 students this year, leaving 91 places unfilled.
Earlier this year, Tes Scotland revealed that the University of Dundee had only managed to fill 16 of the 35 places on its fast-track route to becoming a Stem teacher, which started on 19 January.
Another fast-track route for Stem graduates and home economics teachers, delivered by the University of Dundee and the University of Highlands and the Islands, is due to get underway this month.
Meanwhile, across the traditional routes into teaching, more than one in 10 places on secondary teacher education courses went unfilled this year. By contrast, primary undergraduate and postgraduate courses were oversubscribed, with 71 more students recruited by the universities than the Scottish government had been looking for.
'Big improvement' in teacher recruitment
The most common route into secondary teaching is the one-year PGDE and on these courses specifically 11 per cent of places went unfilled, with just eight out of 20 subjects hitting the target: art, biology, business education, Gaelic, history, modern studies, PE and psychology.
However, these figures are a big improvement on recent years. Last year 30 per cent of places on the secondary PGDE went unfilled, with many subjects struggling to recruit even half of the students needed to guarantee enough teachers in the system.
Technological education, for which recruitment has been particularly difficult in the past, reported 96 per cent of places filled, compared with 29 per cent last year; 80 per cent of places on maths courses were filled, compared with 47 per cent last year.
When it came to home economics teaching courses, 78 per cent of places were filled, against just 54 per cent last year.
However, targets for the secondary PGDE were down on last year by around 13 per cent, dropping from 1,750 in 2017 to 1,515 this year.
So, for instance, the target for maths this year was 163, down from 237 last year. The target for technological education was 50 this year, having been set at 124 last year.