More places to go in teacher training

6th November 2009 at 00:00
More than 1,000 teacher training places will be slashed in Scotland next year, MSPs were told last week

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop told the Parliament's education committee the cuts were necessary because local authorities were reducing teacher staffing levels and newly-qualified teachers were struggling to find work.

"We are not talking about a figure (for those entering teacher training) that is very different from what we have previously had under devolution, but it will be significantly different from what we anticipated," she admitted.

Scotland's largest teaching union claimed the move would damage the capacity of teacher education institutions and leave them unable to meet future demand.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute for Scotland, called instead for robust measures to enforce reductions in class size maxima, the introduction of a national minimum staffing standard, and funding for premature retirement packages to create space in the system.

Ms Hyslop, giving evidence last week on the draft budget, said she could not give "definitive figures" on student teacher numbers but that next year, "baseline" numbers were likely to revert to levels seen in 2000-01 when 2,555 teachers were trained, as compared to 3,650 in 2009-10. The cuts come on top of the loss of 500 teacher training places from this year's intake and will save the Scottish Government more than pound;9 million.

Primary students are expected to bear the brunt, with a 70 per cent reduction in the one-year postgraduate course and a 40 per cent cut in the four-year B.Ed. The numbers entering the one-year secondary postgraduate course will fall by 12 per cent.

Julie Allan, acting head of the Stirling Institute of Education, said that the university was bracing itself for a 40 per cent reduction in students on its groundbreaking B.Ed primary programme, which allows students to combine academic study in modern languages or environmental science with their professional qualification. This would, she said, "create difficulties".

"Given this is a new programme, only established last year, we are having to think about how we are going to sustain it," she said.

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