Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Its A Start But More Needs To Be Done - Education - Training - STEM

Today I have the lead letter in the Central Fife Times discussing plans by the Scottish Government to train and recruit more STEM teaching staff to address shortages. A £20,000 "career changer" bursary will be offered to those seeking this route. 

I wrote about this extensively on a previous post - http://www.kathleenleslie.co.uk/2017/10/20k-welcome-but-is-it-enough-is-it.html . The idea is great, after all it was put forward by the Scottish Conservatives last year, as is so often the case though, the devil is in the detail (or so one of my fellow Councillors like to say...),. at this stage we await the detail.

Ambitious plans are afoot by the Scottish Government to dramatically increase the provision for Early Years provision in Scotland, which in Fife will mean the training and recruiting of around 400-500 new Early Years Officers. Given the shortage of teachers across Fife and the need to continue to use long-term supply staff, a huge recruitment drive is going to be required. A recruitment drive that must see the provision of permanent jobs at the end of it. 

Below is the letter that was published in full and also the link to the longer article which I had published on the website Conservative Home a few days ago - https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/10/kathleen-leslie-the-snp-is-to-blame-for-the-shortage-of-scottish-teachers.html



Swinney’s £20,000 to attract more STEM teachers 

Education Secretary, John Swinney this week unveiled plans to grant a bursary of £20,000 to attract career changers and those with experience in the field to retrain as STEM teachers. 


“A fantastic idea” states Cllr Kathleen Leslie: “This policy decision is one to be welcomed, indeed it was one that the Scottish Conservatives first put forward last year. Scotland has 4,000 fewer teachers than it did when the SNP came to power over a decade ago, couple that with cuts in real terms to spending on education and only now they are attempting to remedy their catalogue of failings.” 


Fife is one of many local authorities across Scotland that has seen insufficient teaching staff to meet demand. At the beginning of the school year Lochgelly High School pupils were left with no Computing teacher and the youngsters being informed they would need to recourse subject at a critical point in their education. This meant those who had chosen to study at National and Higher level were no longer able to continue and in turn meaning it could affect their being able to apply for the college or university course they were seeking. 


Only last month Trinity Academy in Edinburgh, was added to the growing list of schools facing a crisis in teacher recruitment, by having to appeal directly to parents to help find two Maths teachers. Cllr Leslie feels is down to the Scottish Government failing to invest properly in education and to have provided more incentives including better pay for teachers. 


“We have seen Scotland tumble down the PISA international scores in both literacy and numeracy and only 1 in 10 children from deprived areas are now going onto university. Currently children from affluent backgrounds are seven times more likely to achieve 3 “A” Higher passes than who from deprived backgrounds, all this from a Scottish Government that claims education to be its number one priority. Today it would be rare to find a school in Fife that does not rely on supply staff to plug the gap in teacher shortages, particularly in the STEM subjects. This new initiative is to be welcomed but the overall approach to training, recruitment and retention must be examined. Young people have one opportunity at education, government has a responsibility to get that right.”


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