Pupil projections and implications for teacher resourcing needs: education workforce modelling and research

An external report considering population projections and potential implications for education workforce resources in Scotland. This independent analysis is intended to support engagement with partners on workforce planning that enables delivery of key commitments while maximising value for money.

Appendix 2: Methodological summary

This chapter dives into the methodologies and assumptions underpinning our analysis of pupil projections and teacher resourcing needs within Scotland's educational landscape.

Pupil Projections: Growth and Distribution

Pupil projections by stage are derived from the growth rate of the national population projection by age (based on the ONS 2020-based interim national population projections), where stage 1 is assumed to grow at the same rate as the population projection for five year olds, and so on. The LA-level projection is split by the national-level projection by using the proportions calculated from the NRS population projections for Scottish areas (2018-based low fertility projection).

High and Low Pupil Population Projections

For each sub-scenario, we consider the impact of both high and low pupil population projections. The high and low pupil population projections are derived from the spread of the pupil-age population between the principal and low fertility projections for Scotland and its local authorities up to 2035. Please note that the spreads used are the same for all school types (primary, secondary, and special).

Subject Uptakes and Lesson Times

Estimating the number of pupils taking each subject involves a two-step approach. For S1-S3, we rely on the prevalence of compulsory subjects across secondary schools in Scotland, obtained from readily available online timetables. From S4-S6, National 5 attainment statistics provide insights into student preferences and course selections. The number of lessons per week for a particular subject is determined from some secondary school timetables and documents published on their websites. This is then converted into number of minutes by assuming that a lesson normally lasts for 50 minutes.

In order to make the PTR more comparable between subjects, we have carefully adjusted the ratios by factoring in the number of pupils in each subject group and the number of lessons per week. However, there are still some limitations due to data availability. For example, we assume that mathematics, English, and physical education are compulsory subjects at the upper secondary level, while for elective subjects, we use the number of entries at the National 5 level in a given year. Pupils studying the same subject may not take the examination at all, and they may not be in the same year group. There may also be a number of subjects in a subject group. For example, general science, physics, chemistry, and biology are all included in the ‘Sciences’ category, but the number of teachers of these subjects varies considerably. According to the Teacher Census, the number of general science teachers was quite low at 175 nationally in 2022. On the other hand, there were 1,356, 1,004 and 821 teachers of biology, chemistry, and physics, respectively. This aggregated approach may overlook shortages in specific subjects. However, given the potential overlap in teaching roles (i.e. a biology teacher may also be able to teach general science), we maintained the current approach to calculating the subject PTR.

Teacher Resourcing Needs and Scenarios

Our analysis explores various scenarios for teacher resourcing needs under different class contact time and PTR targets. Each scenario assumes a starting point of 22.5 hours per week for all teachers across school types and LAs. Reducing the national target effectively adjusts class contact time for everyone, impacting teacher deployment across the board. The number of teachers in 2023 is assumed to be the same as the teacher stock in 2022 due to data limitations at the time of modelling.

Calculating Class Contact Time

Determining class contact time (CCT) involves several key steps:

1. Determine the class size.

Only primary school statistics are available for each LA. The secondary and special school class sizes are derived from other sources. For secondary schools, we use the England data as a proxy[15]. And with a lack of LA-level data, we assume the class size of secondary / primary schools is the same as the national ratio. For special schools, this is proxied by the class size of moderate learning difficulties, assumed it is the most common type for special schools[16].

2. Determine the number of class hours per week.

The number of hours per week for primary and secondary school pupils is obtained from online sources, where special school is the weighted hours of primary and secondary special school pupils.

3. Apply an adjustment factor.

However, these could not add up to a class contact time of 22.5 hours per week due to the fact that not all teachers are in standard classes. Therefore, an adjustment factor is applied for different school types and different LAs so that all school types and all LAs start with a class contact time of 22.5 hours/week in 2023. The adjustment factors are kept constant throughout the projection period.

Where CCT is reported, it is the average across different school types. However, in scenario 1, the proportions of primary, secondary and special school teachers are adjusted so that the CCT is the same for all school types.


Email: zak.tuck@gov.scot

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