Editor's comment

13th March 2009 at 00:00

Hundreds of new teachers still scrabbling for permanent posts, or even long-term supply, will be aghast at the prospect of teacher education institutions taking in more aspiring teachers next year (p1). There remains tension on this issue: Government targets of reduced class sizes and maintenance of teacher numbers at 53,000 on the one hand; on the other, how authorities respond to financial pressures in this economic climate.

It matters little how expert Scottish Government officials are at analysing demographics, pupil rolls and such data: if local authorities decide they have to cut teacher staffing levels, the end result will be teachers trained for the dole.

The message that job prospects for teachers in Scotland are not as good as they were a few years ago appears to be filtering through to the wider public. The General Teaching Council for Scotland reports that fewer teachers from other countries are applying to teach in Scotland (p3), while the latest figures from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry show a 4 per cent drop in applications for teacher training in Scotland compared to last year. The latter comes with a health warning, however: final application figures are not due until Easter and there is no suggestion that either BEd or PGDE courses will be under-subscribed - even with intake targets raised for next year.

Fortunately, there are no signs of the Scottish Government following the lead of their Westminster colleagues in creating a six-month fast-track entry scheme to teaching, targeted, it would seem, at high-fliers from the finance sector who have lost their jobs. Apart from the fact that being clever with figures does not make anyone a good teacher, there is an insulting implication that becoming a professional teacher is something that can be picked up on the hoof. Would the Government suggest a fast-track entry system for redundant bankers to become doctors? We think not.

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