Pipeline of oil and gas workers runs dry

25th August 2017 at 00:00
Scheme to retrain industry workers as teachers hit by 50 per cent dropout rate

Nearly half of the redundant oil and gas workers who signed up for a £400,000 government scheme to get more science and maths teachers into schools have dropped out.

In total the scheme has produced only 10 new teachers. There were 20 places available on the scheme, with early figures showing 19 former oil and gas workers had signed up.

Aberdeen – one of two councils involved – will benefit from two extra teachers and, while the scheme was introduced so former oil and gas workers could “inspire the next generation of young people in Stem subjects” where teacher shortages are most acute, only one of the new teachers will teach a Stem subject. The other is a business studies teacher.

In Aberdeenshire – the other authority where the scheme ran – eight Stem teachers were expected to complete initial teacher education, although four will take until next month to do so.

The Scottish government announced the initiative – called the Transition into Education Scheme (TIES) – last year. Education secretary John Swinney commented that it would provide “guaranteed employment for four years for up 20 people”.

The news comes amid growing concern in Scotland about the new routes into teaching being introduced by the government.

Fast-track into teaching

In a separate attempt to address the recruitment crisis, the government has opened the door to a Scottish version of the English fast-track teacher-training course Teach First. It is set to tender for a new route into the profession that bodies other than universities can bid for – although any organisation bidding will have to partner with a university.

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, has also voiced concern about a new fast-track course being introduced at the University of Dundee in January that will mean teachers can become fully qualified six months faster than usual. The Dundee route is one of 11 new routes into the profession unveiled by the government last year.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen City Council insisted that TIES had been “a worthwhile venture” and one it intended to continue with.

Helen Shanks, Aberdeen council’s head of inclusion, said: “We recognise that some trainees may not complete their training for a variety of reasons, including finding alternative employment in the oil industry.

“As we progress with the programme over the following years, we hope to see more teachers coming through and bringing with them the additional benefits of their skillsets acquired in their previous roles.”

Aberdeenshire Council said that it was “delighted” the course would produce eight new teachers, and added that it was happy with a non-completion rate of 25 per cent, which was in line with what the authority had expected.

A council spokesman continued: “This was a new course where participants were coming to grips with changing career and with being a full-time student again. No one expected it to be easy.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “This scheme is a radical new approach. It forms part of a wider set of new routes into teaching that are currently in development or being rolled out. These will help address teacher shortages, particularly in key subjects, and help councils find the teachers our children need.”


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