Maths and English student teacher numbers fall well short of targets

14th November 2017 at 14:58
Maths and English among subjects struggling to recruit enough student teachers
Scottish government insists that 'disappointing' figures should be set against an overall rise in student teachers

English and maths are among the subjects struggling to attract enough student teachers in Scotland, according to new figures.

Maths recruited 112 students for 2017-18, 47 per cent of the Scottish Funding Council target of 237. The intake for English is 155, or 63 per cent of its target of 247.

Other low figures include technological education (29 per cent), home economics (54 per cent) and music (58 per cent). There are no student teachers for Gaelic, despite a modest target of five.

Across all subjects, 30 per cent of places on PGDE courses the most common route into secondary teaching in Scotland  have not been filled.

Teacher shortages have affected swathes of Scotland, and the new figures show that there were 816 vacant posts in total across the pre-school, primary and secondary sectors in September up from 685 a year previously.

Teachers training

The Scottish government, which published the figures today, said hundreds more people were training to be teachers following the introduction of a range of new routes, including a fast track route for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates, into the profession.

Across undergraduate and PGDE primary and secondary routes 3,657 students have been recruited – against a target of 4,058. There have also been a further 204 taken on in the new routes, which have no target set.

By the end of January 2018, the government expects 281 students to be studying on one of 11 new routes into teaching. It highlighted a 7.5 per cent increase in the overall number of student teachers this year.

'New routes'

Deputy first minister and education John Swinney said: “These new routes are designed to encourage people from a whole range of backgrounds to consider teaching as a profession and I am pleased to see the impact they are having on the number of student teachers.

“It is disappointing the targets set for some secondary subjects have not been met. However, alongside the £20,000 Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) bursaries I recently announced for career changers and the increased interest we have seen among undergraduates as a result of our recruitment campaign, we expect to see the number of people training as teachers continuing to rise.”

Meanwhile, teacher-training charity Teach First's interest in setting up in Scotland has cooled. It has told the Scottish government it no longer wishes to compete for a £250,000 to run a fast-track course into teaching. Doubts about Teach First’s interest grew after universities in Scotland indicated an unwillingness to work with Teach First.

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