8. Teaching Profession Upskill: Progress and Next Steps
Local authority Development Officers and Quality Improvement Officers (QIOs) reported that they, or their teams, are responsible for the coordination, and in some cases, the delivery of, language training in local authorities. 27 local authorities have arranged for primary teachers to experience an immersion course in the country where the target language is spoken. The training on offer within local authorities is moving towards a more bespoke approach with 23 local authorities reporting that they offer online and blended courses; that is, distance learning, combined with face-to-face tutoring, as well as the more traditional twilight courses, where teachers are taught in a classroom environment.
Local authority officers reported that it is an on-going challenge to ensure that all staff are trained/upskilled. Primary teachers cite time constraints and competing national priorities from numeracy, literacy, and health and wellbeing as barriers to attending twilight courses; and physical attendance at such courses poses a particular difficulty for those teachers in rural or island schools. Some local authorities' broadband is not fast enough to cope with online meetings, especially where there are multiple participants.
Looking beyond 2021, local authorities outlined a number of strategies they intend to deploy, including: QIOs maintaining the strong links they have developed with language leaders in primary schools; continued funding for subscriptions to online support resources and online training courses; and that time is ring-fenced on Inset days for language planning. Some local authorities are beginning to work within their RIC teams, to share good practice and access to resources; others will make use of the e-Sgoil platform to deliver additional language learning for teachers. Several local authorities mention concerns that policy momentum will decline without specific support and drive from dedicated teams within local authorities.