800 Scottish teachers lost from STEM subjects in nine years

A head and shoulders image of a teacher teaching high school students about chemistry in science class.
A head and shoulders image of a teacher teaching high school students about chemistry in science class.
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More than 800 teachers have been lost from the key science and technology subjects in Scotland’s schools over the past nine years, it has emerged.

The Scottish Government wants to see more youngsters taking up these technical subjects like maths, chemistry and computing because they are seen as the key to future economic growth.

But it has emerged that there have been significant falls in the number of teachers in these areas since the SNP came to power in 2007. It has been part of a general fall in teacher numbers in schools which have topped 4,000 since the SNP came to power.

Ministers have admitted more action is needed to get youngsters into these subjects, including more teachers.

But labour insists the fall is down to swingeing cuts to local councils, which run schools, and stepped up calls for tax hikes to address the issue.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “We are seeing teaching jobs being cut under the SNP.

“This summer we saw a fall in young people taking STEM subjects at Higher – if we don’t address these problems now it will spell real problems for our economy in a decade.

“Fixing this will be made all the more difficult by hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts to schools and local services by the SNP Government. That is why Labour has a plan to stop the cuts. We will introduce amendments to the Scottish budget for a 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 a year and a penny for public services so we can stop the cuts and invest in schools instead.”

The figures published by Labour show there are 187 fewer computing teachers since 2007, 410 fewer in maths and a drop of 105 chemistry teachers.

Physics teacher numbers are down by 99, while in general science the decline is 36 and biology numbers have remained static.

The Scottish Government insists the drop in teacher numbers must be seen in the context of falling pupil rolls which have dropped since 2007.

But a spokeswoman said: “We know more needs to be done to encourage young people to take up maths and other STEM subjects and that includes having the right number of teachers in place.

“STEM subjects provide students with vital knowledge and skills to contribute to society and the economy.

“That is why we are introducing a STEM Strategy which will help young people gain the training, knowledge and qualifications they need to develop skills for STEM careers.”

She added that £88 million is being spent this year to ensure all schools have access to the right number of teachers, with 20 out-of-work oil and gas workers being trained to be STEM teachers.