Teacher bursary scheme misses target

A Scottish Government scheme to increase recruitment for teachers of Maths, Physics, and Computer Science has missed its target by almost 15 per cent.

The scheme offered a £20,000 bursary to any graduate with 2:1 in an appropriate degree who chose to retrain as a teacher. It was hoped that this would incentivise greater recruitment in this area, which has particularly suffered in recent years.

But though 100 places were on offer, only 86 people have applied to the scheme. In a last minute bid to increase take up, the Scottish Government has extended the programme to Chemistry graduates.

But the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, blames low wages for the lack of interest. Teachers in Scotland have faced real term pay cuts of over 25 per cent in the last decade - one of the largest declines of any OECD country. The union is demanding a 10 per cent pay rise. So far, the government and councils have not budged from 3 per cent, a real terms increase of almost nothing after accounting for inflation.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of EIS, said:

“The reason why Stem subjects face a shortage is that graduates in these fields can earn more outside of teaching while enjoying better working conditions.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Iain Gray pointed out that numerous sruveys have revealed Scotland’s teachers to be widely demoralised, due to a combination of wage cuts, budget cuts, and pointless reforms. Gray said:

"The number of teachers in Scotland's schools has plummeted under this SNP government, with thousands leaving the profession as class sizes soar and wages continue to fall in real terms.

"A survey last month found a majority of teachers would not recommend the profession to others - a damning indictment of this government's management of Scotland's schools.

"It is no surprise then that SNP Education minister John Swinney's quick fix solution to the school staffing crisis has fallen apart.

"Instead of fixing the root cause of the problem, he spent a year drafting unwanted and unnecessary reforms that teachers didn't ask for only to drop them on the Scottish Parliament's penultimate day before the summer recess.

“It’s time John Swinney restored teachers’ pay and gave our children the resources they need to succeed in school.

“Scottish Labour will always be on the side of teachers and pupils.”

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