'We need action on recruiting teachers';School Management

10th December 1999 at 00:00
On the day that Scotland's football team went to Wembley, one of the leading players in Scottish education delivered a crucial message to the Scottish Executive about the future of education.

"I try not to use the word crisis," said Douglas Weir, dean of Strathclyde University's faculty of education, "but we do need action. We need it in the areas of recruitment of teachers, in initial teacher education and in teaching conditions," he told a conference at Jordanhill Campus, organised by the Scottish Association for Educational Management and Administration.

"My wife is a supply teacher, and when she goes into primary schools, they often say: 'What is your husband doing about the supply teacher situation in our schools? Why is Jordanhill not training more people?' "Of course we can't train any more than the Government requires of us. I'm distressed by our inability to do basic forecasting and by the inadequacy and incompleteness of our data. We don't collect the information that would allow us to calculate current or future needs to tackle teacher supply problems.

"We need to do something to attract men and ethnic minorities into teaching," he continued. "Where is the national policy?

"When the economy is doing well, most graduates can earn more outside teaching, so we have difficulty in attracting applications. And there is a growing problem of teacher stress leading to illness and early retirement.

"For a government that has education as its priority, I think it's legitimate to say: Let's train more teachers in our universities. Let's employ more teachers in schools."

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