Government advised to scrap primary teaching postgrad

Statistical model finds ‘there will be basically no requirement for PGDE primary students from 2021 to 2027’ in Scotland

Emma Seith

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The model that the Scottish government uses to project how many teachers it will need to train has concluded that the main postgraduate route into primary teaching may no longer be required.

It states that “there will be basically no requirement for PGDE primary students from 2021 to 2027”, providing numbers on undergraduate courses are maintained.

The statistical model – which is based on a variety of factors including population projections, the pupil and teacher census; and the age profile of the teacher workforce – made the recommendation about the PGDE route (in full, the professional graduate diploma in education) because the primary pupil roll is expected to fall between now and the end of the projection period in 2030.


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The secondary roll is projected to keep rising until 2023, at which point the model recommends “substantial reductions in PGDE targets from 2023 onwards”.

The paper outlining the workforce planning model findings – published on the Scottish government’s website this week following a freedom of information request – states: “Due to the projected primary school pupil roll continuing to fall, the model projects a substantially lower requirement for new student teachers. Even accounting for the pre-school and primary vacancies, the model projects that the 2020 intake target should be cut.

“Looking further, the primary student roll is projected to continue to fall over the next 10 years. Due to this, the model projects that if the undergraduate target of 780 is maintained then there will be basically no requirement for PGDE primary students from 2021 to 2027.

“At secondary, pupil rolls are projected to continue to increase until 2023. This is countered by a number of factors including a decrease in the number of secondary vacancies. Hence the model suggests the intake target should remain at a similar level in 2020, with substantial reductions in PGDE targets from 2023 onwards.”

The paper was written in October 2019, but the Scottish government confirmed it was the most up-to-date published projection of future teacher numbers.

However, a Scottish government spokesman also stressed that teacher-workforce planning is not based solely on the modelling exercise.

He said: “Initial teacher education intake targets are not solely based on statistical modelling and ministers have taken no decisions on the future targets.”

A document published by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in February, setting out the intake targets for initial teacher education this year, showed that the primary PGDE intake target had “decreased slightly”, dropping by 110 places, from 1,265 in 2019-20 to 1,155 in 2020-21. Secondary intake targets this year remained the same as in 2019-20, according to the SFC document.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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