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Scottish secondary school teacher numbers rise in most subjects, after years of decline

But recruitment problems in some subjects, including maths, computing and home economics, continue to cause concern in schools

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But recruitment problems in some subjects, including maths, computing and home economics, continue to cause concern in schools

Most subjects studied in Scottish secondary schools have had a rise in teacher numbers after years of decline, according to official figures.

It had already emerged in December that overall teacher numbers in Scotland were at their highest level since 2010 – up from 50,970 in 2016 to 51,513 in 2017. But new data shows how this has played out in individual subjects.

Most subjects have had a modest increase in teachers – who are measured “by main subject taught” – after successive years in which numbers have fallen.

This includes the two subjects taught by the highest numbers of teachers: English, which has risen from 2,466 in 2016 to 2,483 in 2017, and maths, which is up from 2,331 to 2,361.

One of the biggest proportional rises is in chemistry, where there are now 982 teachers – an increase of 4 per cent on the previous year.

Overall, the figures show a rise in subject teachers of 179, from 21,526 in 2016 to 21,707 in 2017.

However, a minority of subjects have seen a reduction in numbers – including some with well-publicised problems in recruiting staff  – such as biology, computing studies, Gaelic, German, home economics and music.

Some subjects 'continue to be a worry'

Scotland has launched a number of high-profile teaching recruitment campaigns and new routes into teaching in recent times, with varying success.

In November, Tes Scotland reported that many teaching places remained unfilled, with even English and maths falling well short of target student numbers.

Jim Thewliss, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, which represents secondary headteachers, said: “At a basic level, the increase in numbers across the subject areas is good news.”

However, he stressed that these were already “historic figures” and that difficult-to-recruit subjects – such as computing and home economics, but also some that saw increases, including maths, chemistry and physics – “continue to be a worry”.

He added: “It will be interesting at this point next year to evaluate the impact that the alternative routes into teaching are having on this.”

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