John Swinney has called on talented Scots to “inspire the next generation” and switch to a teaching career in hi-tech skills.
The Deputy First Minister launched a £20,000 bursary scheme for older Scots who could turn their hand to teach key Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.
But teaching leaders last night said that more pay would be the “most effective” way to address recruitment problems.
The bursaries are aimed at addressing a shortage of staff and falling standards in classrooms in subjects viewed as crucial for future economic growth. Ministers hope to appeal to older Scots working in areas like engineering or computing and fancy a career change. They can apply for a £20,000 bursary from April. Up to 20 places will be available on Aberdeen University’s post-graduate diploma course to local applicants and those from Argyll and Bute, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.
Mr Swinney said: “Developing Scotland’s Stem talent and capability will drive economic growth and increase innovation. The key to having more young people enthused and inspired to learn Stem and take up jobs and careers in these fields is having great Stem teachers.
“We know there are people with the talent and experience needed to inspire the next generation, and we want to make a career in teaching more accessible to a wider range of people. These bursaries will make it easier for those considering a career change into teaching to take that step, bridging the gap in employment and making a move into teaching a real possibility for many more people.”
The past year has seen Trinity Academy in Edinburgh and Blairgowrie High School in Perthshire appeal to parents for help in finding maths teachers. The government has also come under fire over falling literacy and numeracy standards in Scotland’s schools during its decade in power. Nicola Sturgeon’s recent Programme for Government was built around the creation of a high-tech, skilled economy.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan welcomed the scheme.
He added: “Challenges in filling some places in teacher education programmes extend beyond Stem subjects, however.
“The most effective solutions to attracting greater numbers of qualified people into teaching are actions to reduce excessive workload and the delivery of significant improvements to teachers’ pay.”
The EIS is campaigning for a 10 per cent hike in teacher pay to address recruitment problems.