Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group: 11 November 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory group on 11 November 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Linda Brownlow, SCDE (Joint Chair)
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (Joint Chair)
  • Greg Dempster, AHDS
  • Elizabeth Horsburgh, SFC
  • Caroline Leburn, SFC
  • Gavin Lee, University of West of Scotland
  • Dave McGinty, SNCT Teachers Panel
  • Carrie McLennan, Universities Scotland
  • Ken Muir, GTCS
  • Morag Redford, Universities Scotland
  • Jim Thewliss, SLS
  • Michael Wood, ADES
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Alastair Anthony, Scottish Government
  • Huw Landrock, Scottish Government
  • Ann Hunter, Scottish Government


  • Simon Cameron, COSLA
  • Tracey Gillespie, SPDS

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Stuart Robb chaired this meeting and welcomed new members Gavin Lee and Carrie McLennan to the group. The purpose of this meeting was to finalise the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group (TWPAG) recommendations on initial teacher education (ITE) in 2021/2022.

Minutes of meeting on 29 October 2019 (Paper TWPAG/2020/1)

It was agreed that the minutes of the meeting of 29 October 2019 were an accurate record and will be published on the Scottish Government website.

Recruitment to initial teacher education (ITE) in 2020

(Paper TWPAG/2020/2A&B – provisional - for information)

2020 ITE student enrolment numbers have been collected from Universities at October 2020. These provisional figures show overall student teacher intake has in 2020/2021 increased to 3,999 compared to 3,890 reported at the same time last year. Provisional student intake numbers for 2020/2021 secondary PGDE and other routes have increased to 1,647 compared to 1,445 reported at the same time last year, which is 92% of the target compared to 80% last year and significantly higher than they were four years ago. Intakes to some traditionally “hard to fill” secondary subjects such as English, home economics, maths, modern languages, music and technological education, while still short of targets set, have increased. Primary intake has again exceeded target.  This was despite a reduction in intake targets for PGDE Primary and other.

Discussion of the group

  • some of the over-recruitment to primary is connected to offers having been made and the reversal of the SQA exam downgrades
  • despite over-recruitment in primary there is still a geographical issue with regard to teacher recruitment difficulties in some areas and teachers finding it difficult to find employment in others
  • therefore, there is a need to keep geographical need on the agenda. Rurality is also important

The employment of additional teachers to support COVID-19 education recovery and the impact on teacher workforce planning.

In July, £80 million was provided to local authorities for the recruitment of additional staff to help education recovery. At this time, more than 1,250 additional teachers and 155 support staff have been recruited. Numbers are expected to rise and authorities plan to recruit 200 more teachers. Two thirds of the teachers are in primary. Staffing will need to continue to be assessed over the coming weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teacher Workforce Planning Model (Paper TWPAG/2020/3)

Paper TWPAG/2020/3 sets out the statistical teacher workforce planning modelling. The teacher workforce planning model indicates a reduction in primary student teacher intakes.

Discussion of the group

  • it was noted that the recent trend of increased part time working is now accounted for in the model and that part-time working may increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • the number of EU applications for GTCS registration is down and the Immigration Bill may have an impact on teachers in the system
  • last year there was a small start to a phased reduction in PGDE primary only. In the longer term, any reduction may need to be split between PGDE and undergraduate to help in HEIs’ planning
  • there is a need to be mindful of where the pinch points are within the workforce when delivering teacher education in the future. The introduction of alternative routes has tried to address this issue.  Other different approaches in models of ITE may be needed to take this forward
  • the system needs to be reviewed to work to connect HEIs, local authorities and the teacher induction scheme together to be responsive to local demand
  • the operation of the preference waiver scheme in the Teacher Induction Scheme in allocating probationers to more remote areas should be reviewed and is being considered by Teacher Induction Scheme Ongoing Review Group (TISORG)
  • it would be helpful to have a more flexible workforce. Consider the need for more ITE students who cover both primary and secondary sectors. It was noted that there are still on-going issues around GTCS registration status in this area
  • the COVID-19 pandemic and education recovery in the coming years may have an unknown impact on the teacher workforce planning. There are, however:
  1. substantial reductions in teacher vacancies
  2. challenges around securing places for a large number of primary probationers on the Teacher Induction Scheme
  3. improvements in primary teacher recruitment

Action: There is a need to make the system more responsive to local, geographical and subject demand based on evidence and this should be taken forward in TWPAG meetings next year.

Agreement/summary of advice the group should offer to Scottish Ministers on ITE and target intakes in 2021 to 2022


The TWPAG noted the substantial reduction in teacher vacancies, challenges around securing places for a large number of primary probationers on the Teacher Induction Scheme and were of the view that there is an improvement in primary teacher recruitment. The TWPAG had a full discussion about the evidence, both factual and anecdotal, before agreeing their advice to recommend a further reduction in primary intake targets for next year of 150 in PGDE primary and 50 in primary undergraduate. 


The TWPAG recommended maintaining secondary targets at 2020/2021 levels as while students teacher intakes to some “hard to fill” secondary subjects have improved in recent years they are still short of targets set.

Next steps

University representatives will meet with SG and SFC in the next few weeks to discuss distribution of intake targets and how targets for individual secondary subjects will be met.

Advice on initial teacher education in 2021/2022 will then be provided to Mr Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the letter of guidance will issue to SFC.

A meeting of the TWPAG to be scheduled in the New Year/Spring to discuss potential work on key issues and its development.


It was confirmed that the 2020 School Census has taken place and headline figures will be published on 15 December 2020.

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