BY Ryan McDougall | January 24 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Glasgow Uni teaching programme ‘likely’ to end as Scottish teacher numbers on the rise

An initiative to solve the Scottish Catholic teacher shortfall is likely to be discontinued, as education officials and the Scottish Government highlighted that teacher numbers are at their highest since 2010.

In 2017, the University of Glasgow began training teachers from Ireland to teach in both Catholic and non-denominational Scottish schools in an effort to alleviate the shortfall in teachers in both primaries and secondaries.

The university began hosting a two-year fast-track Masters course for the Irish teachers in order to help fill the gap, and while it is understood to have been successful, Ireland is now experiencing a teacher shortage of its own.

The Scottish Government last week stated it is highly probable that the 2019-2020 programme will be the last, following the shortages in Ireland and given that teacher numbers in Scotland are now at their highest since 2010.


The St Andrew’s Foundation is responsible for the training of Catholic teachers at the University of Glasgow, and director Dr Roisín Coll said that while the initiative to recruit Irish teachers has been ‘highly successful’ for Scotland, ‘given the changing circumstances in Ireland, it is appropriate to consider its future.’

She said the University of Glasgow’s School of Education has worked through the St Andrew’s Foundation, in conjunction with the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, to help increase the number of qualified Catholic teachers in Scotland, stating there have been ‘a number of key successful initiatives in the last few years.’

She added: “The University of Glasgow staff teaching the Catholic Teachers’ Certificate at a range of other universities across the country has had a significant impact on the numbers of teachers qualified to teach Religious Education in Catholic Schools.

“In addition, in recognition of the significant shortage of specialist Religious Education teachers in the Catholic sector, the university has responded by working with the GTCS [General Teaching Council for Scotland] to create an additional teaching qualification for existing teachers to enable them to apply for full registration as a teacher of this subject.

“There are currently 50 Catholic teachers enrolled in this programme which will have a significant impact on this shortage once they finish their studies in the summer.”


Professor Margery McMahon, head of the School of Education at the University of Glasgow, said her school is ‘proud of the contribution it has made through a number of initiatives to support Catholic teacher education.’

“The programme which the School of Education embarked upon in August 2017, giving Irish teachers a new route into teaching in Scotland, came about because at that time there was an over-supply of newly-qualified teachers in Ireland coupled with a lack of job security for those who did find employment.

“At the same time there was a shortage of teachers for Catholic primary schools, in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and in rural schools.

“A programme offering recently qualified teachers from teacher education institutions across Ireland and Northern Ireland the opportunity to teach for the equivalent of four days a week in Scottish schools while spending the fifth day studying for a Masters in Education was designed to address these challenges.”


She added: “The initiative has been extremely successful but with improvements in the teacher employment situation in Ireland and the development of additional provision in the form of the Catholic Teachers’ Certificate (CTC) and the Additional Teaching Qualification in Religious Education (ATQRE), the need for the Glasgow programme for Irish teachers is no longer there.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Teacher numbers are at their highest since 2010 and primary teacher numbers are at their highest level since 1980.

“We have taken decisive action through our Teaching Makes People campaign, increased targets for recruitment into initial teacher education and created alternative routes into teaching to make it more practical and flexible for people to access programmes.

“We have also invested nearly £320,000 to support an expansion in delivery of the Catholic Teacher’s Certificate in Religious Education.

“Over the past three academic years this has supported an increase in the number of Scottish universities delivering the programme from one to six, while the number of funded places has increased from 93 to 345.”

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