Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group meeting: October 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 26 October 2021.

Attendees and apologies

  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (Joint Chair)
  • Linda Brownlow, SCDE (Joint Chair)
  • Jonathan Cunningham, AHDS
  • Tracey Gillespie, SPDS
  • Elizabeth Horsburgh, SFC
  • Sarah Kirkpatrick, SFC
  • Gavin Lee, University of West of Scotland
  • Dave McGinty, SNCT Teachers Panel
  • Carrie McLennan, Universities Scotland
  • Pauline Stephen, GTCS
  • Morag Redford, Universities Scotland
  • Jim Thewliss, SLS
  • Michael Wood, ADES
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Alastair Anthony, Scottish Government
  • Huw Landrock, Scottish Government
  • Lorna McDonald, Scottish Government
  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government
  • Helen Reid, Scottish Government
  • Ann Hunter, Scottish Government


  • Simon Cameron, COSLA
  • Greg Dempster, AHDS represented by Jonathan Cunningham

Items and actions


Stuart Robb chaired this meeting and welcomed members of the group. The purpose of this meeting was to provide the TWPAG recommendations on initial teacher education (ITE) in 2022/2023 to Scottish Government Ministers.

Minutes of meeting on 28 June 2021 (Paper TWPAG/2021/4)

It was agreed that the minutes of the meeting of 28 June 2021 were an accurate record and will be published on the Scottish Government website.

Action points:

  • action is required on how to deliver local, geographical and subject needed. COSLA would take forward with SPDS and ADES HR Colleagues. – COSLA assessment of local authority need for teachers is underway
  • action: SG to prepare a paper for Ministers seeking views on options to deliver the manifesto commitments to fund recruitment of additional teachers and reduce teachers’ weekly contact time by an hour and a half per week. – A paper has been provided to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

Publication of a new post-probationer teacher employment statistical dashboard.

This new statistical dashboard shows post-probationer employment trends over last four Teacher Induction Scheme cohorts which is largely the information shared in paper TWPAG/2021/2 at the last meeting of the group in June. The data is available to download for analysis. It is important to note that the data in the dashboard was collected at the teacher census in September 2020 before the recent commitments to make the additional funding for additional teachers permanent. The number of permanent contracts is expected to increase accordingly.

Discussion of the group:

  • there are subjects such as chemistry, which is regarded as having local authority teacher recruitment difficulties, showing teachers not in permanent employment
  • there is a mismatch between new teachers and the subjects with recruitment difficulties
  • once received, local authority estimation of need can be looked at alongside this statistical information and used to have a discussion with local authorities about their requirements for teachers and inform the allocation of intake targets to Universities

Recruitment to initial teacher education (ITE) in 2021

(Paper TWPAG/2021/5A and B – provisional - for information)

2021 ITE student enrolment numbers have been collected from Universities at October 2021. These provisional figures show overall student teacher intake has in 2021/22 decreased to 3,878 compared to 3,999 reported at the same time last year. Provisional student intake numbers for 2021/22 secondary PGDE and other routes have decreased to 1,527 compared to 1,647 reported at the same time last year, which is 85% of the target compared to 92% last year. However, the 2021 intake is still up on 2019 which was 1,445 which was 80% of the same target intake of 1,800. 

Most PGDE secondary subjects in 2021/22 show decreases apart from computing, English, modern studies and RE where numbers remain the same or show small increases. There are notable decreases in both modern languages and physics.

Recruitment to primary courses both UG and PGDE as in previous years have yet again exceeded target.

Discussion of the group:

  • there is a need to understand why certain subjects are not attracting sufficient candidates and how this might be achieved
  • there is a need to look at ways of engaging with individuals about their decision to choose teaching as a career to understand what action should be taken to encourage more people to consider undertaking ITE
  • the notable drop in modern languages intake may be linked to COVID-19 and not being able to fulfil overseas residence requirements of having to have lived for six months in a country where the language is spoken before starting the PGDE programme
  • the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL) Legacy Fund had received a number of funding requests to gain academic qualifications to allow teaching in a second subject. Whist this was not an appropriate use of this particular fund it was suggested that another solution should be found
  • primary teachers, with appropriate skills, need to be encouraged into secondary teaching. Local authorities should made be more aware of this possible deployment primary teachers to allow more flexible use the teacher workforce
  • universities look at primary applicants qualifications and where possible encourage them to consider secondary teaching

Teacher Workforce Planning (Paper TWPAG/2021/6)

Paper TWPAG/2021/6 sets out the statistical teacher workforce planning modelling. The teacher workforce planning model has historically been based upon the assumption of maintaining pupil teacher ratios across each sector. The model is based on a number of inputs including projections about the number of pupils in the education system at primary and secondary ages, churn in teacher numbers (retirement, maternity, returners, etc) and the retention rates of ITE students. This year, the statistical modelling has also looked at the number of ITE students required to meet the PfG commitment to support the recruitment of at least 3,500 additional teachers.

The TWPAG were presented with 3 PGDE target intake scenarios which would be sufficient to meet the commitment as set out in the paper to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

Discussion of the group and action to be taken:

There is a need to:

  • support the Universities to meet any increased target for secondary and to continue to work closely with them on deliverability and geographic spread
  • work closely with COSLA and ADES with regard to a local authority audit of need and employment opportunities for the additional teachers
  • increase efforts to attract people into the teaching profession, for example through the new “What Teaching Taught Me” recruitment campaign, which will continue to promote teaching as a career, and to discuss with Universities their marketing of secondary teaching courses
  • consider what wider support may be provided to schools to support students on placement and early career teachers to help in improving the impression of teaching therefore promoting it as an attractive career

Agreement/summary of advice the group should offer to Scottish ministers on ITE and target intakes in 2022/23

The TWPAG considered all 3 scenarios. The group was of the view that whilst Scenario B, an increase in recruitment to primary to meet the overall target, could be easily achieved it would not provide the teachers required and there is likely to be an oversupply of primary teachers. This scenario would also not solve secondary teacher recruitment difficulties. The substantial increase to the secondary target in Scenario C, however, is not achievable given the current target of 1800 is not being met. Therefore the group agreed their advice should be to recommend maintaining primary target intakes for next year and to increase secondary slightly by 200 which concurs with the view of the Cabinet Secretary. This approach recognises historical over-recruitment in primary and the on-going need to increase teacher numbers in secondary. The TWPAG recognised the on-going need to keep primary targets under review and that the receipt of local authority estimation of need is required to inform teacher requirements in following academic years. It was recognised also that considerable effort will be required on the part of the Universities to reach an increased target of 2,000 in 2022/23 and support would be required in promoting teaching as a career to meet this challenging target.

Next steps

The TWPAG advice on initial teacher education in 2022/23 will be provided to Ms Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. 

The letter of guidance will issue to SFC at the end of the year/beginning of January, after having checked the advice on ITE against the results of the 2021 teacher census which will be published on 14 December 2021. Consulting further with TWPAG and the Cabinet Secretary should it be necessary.

Discuss with University representatives and the SFC the proposed increase in the secondary intake target, its distribution and how targets for individual secondary subjects will be met

A meeting of the TWPAG will be scheduled in February to discuss the key issues moving forward.


Related papers

Read the agenda and papers for this meeting

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