LOOMING GAPS in teacher supply are to boost the number of training places for next session and in ensuing years, significantly reversing a lengthy period of retrenchment in teacher numbers.
The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, which sets intakes in line with guidance from the Scottish Office, says recruitment of primary students is being stepped up from 810 this year to 865, with 600 going through the four-year BEd course and the remainder enrolled on the one-year postgraduate course.
Secondary places will rise from 812 to 1,015. But there will be a standstill in the intakes for the specialist BEd degrees to teach music and technology in secondary schools because of recruitment difficulties. Levels will be set at those achieved this session: 50 in music and 31 in technology. Places on the secondary BEd in physical education will remain at 100.
The funding council says that, despite statistical projections for primary that point to the need for no more than 450 BEd places in 1999-2000, more are needed to meet shortages among supply teachers, the expansion in pre-school places and local recruitment difficulties.
The council said an intake of nearly 1,000 primary BEd places must be reached within five years if shortages are to be avoided. Government policy to reduce class sizes has also created a need for 600 additional teachers by August 2001, but this will be met through the one-year primary course rather than the four-year degree.
The council has also responded to concerns about teacher shortages in the Catholic sector, allowing St Andrew's College an extra 15 primary and 15 secondary places. The college described this as "a dramatic shift from the trend of the past 23 years".