Scottish education: Sharp declines in numbers of maths and physics teachers raise huge concerns for future – Scotsman comment

Despite the SNP’s promise to boost the number of staff in classrooms, Scotland now has fewer teachers than in 2007

It may be hard for those paying attention to the state of our public services not to become inured to regular statistics chronicling the latest stage of their decline. However, succumbing to the idea that things are only ever going to get worse or letting politicians away with the bogus excuse that the situation is not as bad as somewhere else represents a meek acceptance of defeat that will only add to our woes.

According to new figures, there are now about 1,000 fewer teachers in Scotland than there were in 2007, when the SNP came to power, while the number of pupils has risen by 13,000. There are nearly 25 per cent fewer computer studies teachers, 12 per cent fewer maths teachers and eight per cent fewer physics teachers – all subjects that are important to the modern-day economy.

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Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie rightly said that such subjects “open the doors to industries of the future”, adding that “with so few teachers now specialising in them and no sign of action to encourage more teachers into the workforce, the SNP are creating a vicious cycle that diminishes the skills of future generations”.

Short-term contracts

Small wonder then that Scotland’s performance in the recent international Pisa league tables showed a marked slump. Large falls in maths and science saw Scotland drop below the average for the OECD group of countries in those two subjects for the first time.

In 2021, the SNP promised to recruit 3,500 extra teachers and classroom assistants, but the numbers have instead fallen since then, indicating incompetence or a lack of effort in finding ways to attract new recruits to the profession and retain existing staff. Problems faced by teachers kept on supposedly short-term contracts for far too long suggest bureaucracy and bad planning is also playing a part. You can only muck people about for so long.

Particularly when technological developments are happening so quickly, Scotland needs highly motivated, enthusiastic teachers capable of taking on new challenges to ensure the future is bright for the next generations. Not over-worked, stressed-out and fed-up staff whose minds are occupied by thoughts of a career-change.



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