Recommendations from the Committee
Workforce planning process
The Committee has asked for a response to its report and the suggestions for improvement from the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group, who is responsible for assessing the need for more teachers before recommending the intake for teacher training courses each year. The Committee has also made suggestions to improve how the Group accesses the information that it needs (from the Scottish Government, education authorities and others) and that the Group should commission an independent evaluation of its work, including how to make this more transparent. The Committee has also recommended that there should be more focus on localised planning, along with bigger efforts to attract candidates locally.
Recruitment & training
During the inquiry it became clear that one of the biggest issues facing recruitment into teaching is that the profession of teacher is not thought of highly enough in our society – this puts young people off becoming teachers, along with hearing about the experiences of existing teachers. Tackling these challenges is crucial to encourage more people to become teachers.
The Committee recommends that the General Teaching Council for Scotland, or its replacement, the Education Workforce Council for Scotland, reviews entry requirements to teaching courses to make sure innovative solutions are being put in place wherever possible. One example comes from Moray House where, for one of its courses, teacher graduates have to achieve Higher English by the time they leave the course rather than when they start it.
When it comes to course content, the Committee has said that online safety should feature in all teacher education courses, as well as practical teaching skills dealing with the difficulties of supporting a range of children with additional support needs and that all teachers should receive high quality baseline training which prepares them to support pupils with a range of additional needs. The Committee has also highlighted the concerns it heard about the quality of literacy and numeracy in teaching courses, and the Governments acknowledgement of these issues, and has recommended the Government investigates the extent of these problems. The Committee has recommended that the Government considers making one organisation responsible for the accreditation of all initial teacher training courses.
With school based student placements for trainee teachers, the Committee has recommended that there should be service level agreements between education colleges and education authorities as standard to allow students to feedback their experiences. Any recurring or important issues should then be reported so they can be resolved. All teachers should be prepared and supported to take on the role of mentor for trainees or probationers and mentoring should feature in these agreements as standard. The Committee heard about issues to do with where students are placed geographically, including childcare and other practicalities not being taken into account. The Committee welcomes efforts to improve the placement system and has asked for an update from the Education Workforce Council for Scotland at the end of the next academic year.
The Committee heard about some excellent work being carried out by education authorities to remove financial barriers and allow for flexible learning for people from the local area who want to move into teaching as mature students. The Committee is hopeful that there will be more opportunities for collaboration between education authorities to make sure more local approaches to teacher recruitment can be carried out. The Committee has also said that bringing in teachers from elsewhere in the UK should be an immediate priority to help deal with teacher shortages.