Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group meeting: October 2019

Papers from the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group meeting on 29 October 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Linda Brownlow, SCDE (Joint Chair)
  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (Joint Chair)
  • Greg Dempster, AHDS
  • Tracey Gillespie, SPDS
  • Elizabeth Horsburgh, SFC
  • Caroline Leburn, SFC
  • Dave McGinty, SNCT Teachers Panel
  • Teresa Moran, Universities Scotland
  • Ken Muirt, GTCS
  • Kathryn O’Loan, SFC
  • Morag Redford, Universities Scotland 
  • Jim Thewliss, SLS
  • Debbie Walls, COSLA
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Alastair Anthony, Scottish Government 
  • Huw Landrock, Scottish Government
  • Ann Hunter, Scottish Government


  • Martin Boyle, University of Glasgow
  • Carrie McLennan, Universities Scotland
  • Michael Wood, ADES

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

Linda Brownlow chaired this meeting and welcomed members of the group. The purpose of this meeting was to finalise the TWPAG recommendations on initial teacher education in 2020/2021.

Minutes of the meeting of 18 December 2018 (paper TWPAG/2019/1)

It was agreed that the minutes of the meeting of 18 December were an accurate record.

Outstanding actions points:


  • paper TWPAG/2018/4 provided a useful summary of work being undertaken to promote teaching as a career for discussion at a future meeting
  • there has been ongoing discussion between UCAS and Universities about their PG Application Management System and whether it is an option for resolving the current difficulties in PGDE admissions in Scotland. Universities decided that they would not pursue the PG option until the new system has been introduced. The decision rests Universities and it is for them to pursue at a later stage
  • work is on-going with COSLA on the collection of information from local authorities on how many teachers they need to ensure teachers are in the areas they are required
  • what action some LAs are taking to achieve low vacancy rates has been discussed with authorities at ADES HR. Some authorities are offering incentives and bespoke teacher education programmes
  • the teacher vacancy survey and 2018 provisional initial teacher education information was published on the SG website on 10 December 2018
  • Scottish Government to consider more of a regional focus in teacher workforce planning - work is on-going between local authorities and SG
  • Scottish Government dialogue with universities about the need to reduce primary intake targets is on-going and universities

It was noted that:

  • where GTCS were seeing a decreasing number of EU applicants requesting registration in Scotland that it is now more consistent with previous years
  • while salary increases has helped promote teaching as a positive career, more marketing should be done to attract people into rural regions

Teacher Workforce Planning model – impact of using earlier teacher and pupil census data (paper TWPAG/2019/2)

Paper TWPAG/2019/2 sets out the proposed changes to timing and impact on of the teacher workforce planning exercise.

Teacher vacancy survey (paper TWPAG/2019/3)

Paper TWPAG/2019/3 sets out the teacher vacancy information collected at 18 September 2019, by the Scottish Government in conjunction with COSLA for information. Advertised vacancies for permanent primary teacher roles have dropped by more than half since last year, from 204 to 88 and in secondary sector by more than 100, from 402 to 294. Advertised vacancies for secondary Maths and English teachers have more than halved since 2017. There are also a decreases in hard to fill vacancies ie those over 3 months.  Vacancies in Technological Education remain high.

Discussion of the group:

  • there continues to be some geographical and subject difficulties
  • the curriculum delivered by schools could be constrained by LA ability to fill some teaching posts in some subjects and local authorities might not advertise posts due knowing they will not be able to be filled.  Hence the importance of work with COSLA on local authority need (Action point 3)
  • teacher Induction Scheme preference waiver scheme needs to ensure teachers are allocated to where they are needed and consider whether amounts offered for primary and secondary should be the same
  • so few vacancies may: represent the success of the teachers’ pay settlement; result in an increase of the supply pool
  • it was noted that the 2019 survey results indicates a significant reduction in the number of teacher vacancies advertised by local authorities, compared to the same time last year
  • the significant improvement in teacher vacancies runs counter to previous years’ anecdotal evidence of recruitment difficulties in the primary sector and in some secondary subjects
  • more recent feedback from LAs on primary teacher need is that the position in some areas of the country is a lot better than it has been in the past
  • the survey will be published before Christmas

Recruitment to initial teacher education (ITE) in 2019 (paper TWPAG/2019/4 – provisional for information)

2019 ITE student enrolment numbers have been collected from Universities at October. These provisional figures show the overall intake figures are slightly down on last year by 13. Overall student teacher intake has decreased to 3,889 compared to 3,902 reported at the same time last year. Secondary PGDE and other routes intake has decreased to 1,444 compared to 1,494 reported at the same time last year, which is 80% of the target compared to 85% last year. PGDE secondary target was increased by 50 to 1800.  Primary PGDE intake has again exceeded target.  Whilst the overall achievement of the ITE intake target has decreased slightly, the student intake figures for traditionally hard to fill subjects such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Home Economics have increased.

Discussion of the group:

  • it takes time for the increased intakes from alternative routes to filter into the teacher workforce eg some are HND routes
  • only a small number of HEI offer a degree that allows entry requirements to PGDE home economics. UG ITE courses introduced at UHI and Strathclyde Universities will help with this difficulty in home economics
  • there still can be difficulty in securing student placements and vacancies in the Teacher Induction Scheme in hard to fill subjects
  • teachers and schools should be promoting secondary teaching as a career pathway to pupils
  • there is a STEM academy programme at Glasgow University that brings together pupils and teachers to promote science. This could be extended in to home economics

Alternative routes into teaching (paper TWPAG/2019/5)

Paper TWPAG/2019/5 is a brief summary of information evaluating alternative routes into teaching which will be published at the end of November.  It shows these routes have attracted a high number of people over the last 2 years who otherwise may not have entered teaching.  There will be on-going evaluation of retention rates.

Teacher Workforce Planning Model (paper TWPAG/2019/6)

Paper TWPAG/2019/6 sets out the statistical teacher workforce planning modelling.

Discussion of the group:

  • retention rates in the paper show 20% of secondary PGDE students not going on to the Teacher Induction Scheme. A small unknown number of this percentage will follow the flexible route into the profession. Work may be needed on the assumptions to calculate retention rates to establish actual student drop-out rates from teaching
  • numbers of teachers working part-time in primary is increasing. This reduction in individual’s hours may suggest not reducing primary PGDE numbers as severely as model indicates
  • the model has suggested the need for a reduction in the primary PGDE target for a number of years. The view previously has been that due to the pressure in recruitment reported by local authorities in the primary sector it was not the time to reduce PGDE primary target intake
  • there is a need to start going down the route of reducing primary numbers as primary pupil numbers have peaked and the primary roll is projected to continue to fall over the next 10 years
  • there were challenges around securing places for a large number of primary probationers on the 2019 Teacher Induction Scheme
  • a structured managed approach is needed to any reduction in primary PGDE places to avoid issues around HEI staffing.  HEIs will work with the Scottish Government on any redistribution of places between universities.
  • reducing PGDE numbers rather than UG primary is the preferred method of managing a reduction in primary of target intakes
  • primary applicants should be encouraged to consider secondary teacher education as an alternative. Middle years programmes should also be promoted more
  • the Teacher Induction Scheme preference waiver needs mechanisms to deal with rurality issues
  • more work should be done with local authorities to recruit locally therefore maintain teachers in the areas required
  • PGDE secondary target should remain at 1800 as target need to reflect need for secondary teachers
  • discussion of the distribution between universities of a suggested reduction in primary PGDE of around 100, taking account of geographical need, will take place at the meeting with HEIs on 14 November 2019

Agreement/summary of advice the group should offer to Scottish Ministers on ITE and target intakes in 2020/21

The TWPAG noted the substantial reduction in teacher vacancies, challenges around securing places for a large number of primary probationers on the 2019 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 small reduction in primary intake targets for next year of around 100.

The TWPAG recognise the ongoing need to keep primary targets under consideration as projections show the number of primary pupils has peaked and are projected to drop to the end of the projection period. 

Intake allocations to all other ITE routes should remain unchanged and intake targets for combined degrees should be grouped together with UG degree allocations in the relevant sector.

Next steps

University representatives will meet with SG and SFC on 14 November 2019 to discuss the proposed modest reduction in primary intake targets, its distribution and how targets for individual secondary subjects will be met.

Advice on initial teacher education in 2020/21 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.

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