107 new STEM teachers funded by bursary

Support scheme extended to help more people into teaching.

A scheme to encourage people to retrain as secondary school teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is to be extended.

The STEM bursary programme exceeded its target during a successful first year, with 107 bursaries approved totalling more than £2 million. Subjects eligible for bursaries of up to £20,000 were Chemistry, Computing Science, Mathematics, Physics and Technology.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed the scheme – part of the STEM Strategy for Education and Training – will be available for career changers applying for teacher training courses starting in August 2019. Applications will open in the new year.

Mr Swinney said:

“We want to help people who have invaluable experience of working in industry to use their knowledge and life skills to inspire the next generation. More than 100 new STEM teachers will soon be in classrooms as a result of this scheme and I am confident the bursary will attract even more talented people to apply next year.  

“Developing Scotland’s STEM talent and capability is key to future economic growth so it is important we have specialist teachers who can bring their enthusiasm into classrooms. This bursary is just one of the actions underway to make a career in teaching more accessible to more people.”  

Paul Gibson, 56, from Bowden near Melrose, left a successful career in the engineering sector to study a Professional Graduate Diploma in Technical Education at the University of the Highlands and Islands.  

He said: “One of the reasons I decided to retrain was that I wanted to travel less and be able to do more with my family and in my local community. I really enjoyed running training for young people in my last job so teaching was a natural choice.  

“Knowing the bursary was available took some of the stress out of the decision to leave my job and it has really helped the transition. I am already getting huge satisfaction from working in the classroom and I’m looking forward to being able to use my experience in industry to prepare young people for the workplace.  

“It’s important to be able to explain how the skills we teach are relevant to real jobs and having a career under your belt gives your words extra credibility.”  

Ken Edwards, Education Programme Lead at Skills Development Scotland, said:   “It’s welcome that in the first year of this new programme the bursary has helped so many career changers make the move from their existing employment to train as teachers in five STEM subjects where there is demand in schools across Scotland.  

“This will contribute to getting the right skills balance in the teaching workforce and in supporting young people to be engaged and enthused in their STEM learning.”  


STEM Bursaries are one the actions within the STEM Strategy for Education and Training, published in October 2017.   Bursaries were delivered by Skills Development Scotland to students undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). The scheme exceeded its first year target of 100 bursaries.


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