Librarians, classroom assistants and school administrative staff are being retrained as teachers to try to counter the recruitment crisis.
Ofsted warned last year that it was concerned about the fall in the number of teachers joining the profession in England, with the problem particularly acute in maths and physics.
But an innovative approach being used in Scotland could help ease the pressure. Tapping into the existing school workforce is increasingly being seen as an opportunity for schools to “home-grow” at least some of the teachers they will need.
A scheme to encourage more people to retrain as primary teachers has been launched with a £342,000 grant from the Scottish government, and comes as the number of teachers in Scotland has hit a 10-year low.
This follows warnings in some regions that pupils may have to be sent home because of the shortage of teachers. The inability to fill teacher vacancies was having a “terrible” impact, according to Maria Walker, Aberdeenshire’s director of education and children’s services.
Under the approach being used in local authorities such as Aberdeenshire and Highland, training is largely done through distance learning, allowing staff to work alongside completing their training. Participants with an undergraduate degree can get a diploma in primary education in 18 months.
Aberdeen University, which runs the programme, is also looking at launching a similar scheme for secondary teachers to tackle shortages in science, maths and home economics.
“It’s about widening access to teacher education and encouraging people to train who maybe did not think they had the opportunity,” said Yvonne Bain, deputy head of the university’s school of education.