Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group minutes: August 2018

Minutes of the meeting of the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group that took place on 28 August 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (Joint Chair)
  • Linda Brownlow, SCDE (new Joint Chair)
  • Rowena Arshad, Universities Scotland
  • Martin Boyle, University of Glasgow
  • Kathy Cameron, COSLA
  • Greg Dempster, AHDS
  • Ellen Doherty, GTCS - representing Ken Muir
  • Tracey Gillespie, SPDS
  • Sarah Kirkpatrick, SFC
  • Dave McGinty, SNCT Teachers Pane - representing Louise Wilson
  • Morag Redford, Universities Scotland
  • Jim Thewliss, SLS
  • Michael Wood, ADES
  • Stephanie Walsh, Scottish Government
  • Bruce Golding, Scottish Government
  • Ann Hunter, Scottish Government


  • Alastair Anthony, Scottish Government                      
  • David Drysdale, Education Scotland
  • Elizabeth Horsburgh, SFC
  • Ken Muir, GTCS - represented by Ellen Doherty
  • Louise Wilson, SNCT Teachers Panel represented by Dave McGinty
  • Tom Young, COSLA

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

1.1 Stuart Robb chaired this meeting and welcomed members of the group.  It was noted that Linda Brownlow is replacing Morag Redford as joint chair of the group.

1.2 The purpose of the meeting was to start the teacher workforce planning process at an earlier stage.  Commencing the process earlier last year had provided greater opportunity for the group to discuss issues feeding into the exercise in advance of providing advice on the requirement for newly qualified teachers.

2. Item 2:  Minutes of meeting on 14 December 2018

(Paper TWPAG/2018/1)

2.1 The minutes of the meeting of 14 December were agreed as an accurate record.

2.2  Action points:

  • action points relating to the teacher vacancy survey will be considered at item 5 of the agenda 
  • new routes into teaching had been factored into meeting secondary subject targets

3. Item 4 Initial teacher education admissions

3.1 The number of PGDE secondary offers accepted at August 2018 are up on the same time last year.  Other routes into teaching are also making a contribution to the overall subject target total. This indicates that the “Teaching Makes People” recruitment campaign is being successful in attracting applicants.

Discussion of the group:

  • it was noted that acceptance numbers should continue to improve and Universities will continue to offer places for a period after courses have started

Home economics

  • there is concern that home economics continues to be a subject where teacher student recruitment is difficult.  Meeting entry requirements for the PGDE is considered part of the reason for this difficulty as the subject has a large number of elements.  A working group is considering entry requirements to teacher education and a national consultation will be undertaken in October
  • it was noted that the new route in home economics at UHI in 2018/19 has recruited 18 students into year one and 5 into year two, several of whom are male.  The introduction of a new HND route in home economics is also proposed
  • the subject may also benefit from a rebranding.  It was noted that the title of the course introduced at UHI is “Food, Nutrition and Textiles Education”  

EU nationals

  • there is concern as to the impact Brexit will have on EU nationals applying to teach in Scotland
  • GTCS applications for registration by EU nationals had shown a drop, however, have started to grow again.  Applications are down on previous years.  This may be due to EU nationals waiting for clarity on the EU situation.  GTCS registration of teachers from EU and other parts of world is always encouraged
  • Learning Directorate officials will continue working with migration colleagues on this issu
  • A COSLA survey of local authorities is being undertaken on the impact of Brexit on all existing employees 

STEM bursaries

  • STEM bursaries of £20,000 have been awarded to 92 student teachers in 2018/19.  A further 16 are being considered.  Applications close at the end of the week and the target number of 100 should be met
  • consideration is being given to extending the scheme to include home economics

4. Item 3: Decline, withdrawal and rejection student teacher application numbers              

4.1 Linda Brownlow provided information on rejected, declined and withdrawn applications to teacher education. 

Candidates are rejected at different points in the application cycle for not meeting the following criteria:

  • not having the required entry requirements
  • not having experience in a school. An essential requirement in primary, however, is not so much an issue in difficult to recruit to subjects
  • personal statement not showing a strong enough interest in teaching


  • at point of interview where they do not respond to invitation, do not attend or are unsuccessful

Offers are declined and withdrawn for a number of reasons:

  • change of mind – eg not cut out for teaching
  • personal circumstances not allowing uptake of place
  • offer from another university or employment

Discussion of group:

Entry requirements

  • where candidates do not meet entry criteria Universities will encourage students to gain school experience or entry requirements, such as Higher English
  • there is some flexibly offered by the GTCS that entry requirements in English and maths can be undertaken concurrently while on initial teacher education (ITE) and the “Teaching Makes People” campaign makes this clear.  However, this is easier to manage on a 4 year undergraduate or 2 year Masters course than an intensive one year PGDE
  • universities prefer that qualifications, such as Higher English, remain an entry requirement rather than an exit requirement as difficulty may result if the qualification has not been obtained on completion of ITE.  A summer course offered by Aberdeen University successfully delivers Higher English prior to entry to ITE
  • universities and candidates themselves are both responsible in maximising the success of applications, however, more work can be done in Universities and by others in channelling advice   
  • GTCS have published a booklet to provide early advice on what is required to become a teacher which will be available at the Scottish Learning Festival and sent to every school
  • connections need to be made with pupils in schools to promote teaching as a career, teaching needs to be made more accessible without lowering standards and where entry requirements are not met advice should be offered on equivalent qualifications
  • trade unions and other organisations have a vested interest in promoting teaching as a positive career choice on which all other professions depend
  • the message about teaching as a career needs to be directed at young people through social media.  The “Teaching Makes People” campaign does focus on Instagram and You Tube

Action 1: Group to provide a summary of work being undertaken to promote teaching at next meeting on 29 October 2018. 

UCAS application system

  • it was noted that candidates can apply to 5 universities.  This is designed to give the applicant more choice, however, this is not helpful to universities as it results in more offers having to be made to meet targets
  • SCDE and UCAS are in discussion about the application system.  Consideration is being given to reducing the number of applications that can be made to universities to three. This may not help solve the problem of having to make numerous offers to meet targets for Glasgow University, Strathclyde University and University of West of Scotland as all are located in the west of the country and candidates are, therefore, still likely to apply to all three   

Action 2:  It was agreed that a representative from UCAS should be invited to the next meeting on 29 October to discuss the application system for Scottish teacher education providers.

5. Item 5: Teacher workforce planning model, teacher vacancy survey 2018 and local intelligence; eg primary and Roman Catholic teacher provision 

5.1 Teacher numbers have been increasing and are at 51,513.  Consideration needs to be given to what are sufficient numbers before teacher unemployment becomes an issue as it has been in previous years.  In recent years the main focus has been on the match of supply and demand in secondary.  Attention needs to now also focus on primary and regional delivery.

5.2  The major elements in the teacher workforce planning statistical model are information from the teacher census and pupil projection numbers, based on the National Records of Scotland’s (NRS) population projections which are published every 2 years.  The statistical model will be updated with a new set of pupil projections for the meeting on 29 October and with teacher census information for the meeting in December.  There are no radical changes planned for the statistical modelling and the process will be informed thereafter by the advice of the group.

5.3 It was noted that the Scottish Government had received 2 FOI requests on teacher workforce planning and the workings of the model have been published.

Action 3: Teacher workforce planning statistical model updated with pupil projections will be provided at meeting on 29 October 2018.

Teacher vacancy survey

5.4 The 2018 teacher vacancy survey has been issued jointly by COSLA and the Scottish Government to local authorities for completion on 19 September 2018, the same date as the teacher census.  A recent media FOI to local authorities showed around 600 teacher vacancies in Scotland.  To further inform the teacher workforce planning discussions the 2018 teacher vacancy survey requests information on acting Headteachers and which grade they are acting up from.

Roman Catholic provision

5.5 Following discussion with Glasgow University it has been established that the data requested in the teacher census on teachers in Roman Catholic schools needs to be improved. It measures the number of teachers in Roman Catholic schools who have approval, however, it does not show that they have the Catholic Teacher Certificate (CTC) qualification.

Regional provision

5.6 Some work has been undertaken looking at the match between student teacher places and Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs).

It shows that:

  • the Northern Alliance provided posts for all probationer teachers who graduated from Aberdeen and UHI seeking a place on the teacher induction scheme.  This does not show, however, that these numbers meet the demand of the local authorities in the Northern Alliance
  • Strathclyde University and the University of the West of Scotland produced a lot more students than required by the Western Partnerships
  • in the east there are more probationer places than probationer teachers who graduate from Edinburgh Universit

Post probation teachers are nearly all located in the same authority.

Action 4:  Scottish Government will share the work with the group on the match of university students to RICS.

Other factors that may be considered in the teacher workforce planning process

            Discussion of the group:

  • it was confirmed that teachers employed as part of the Attainment Challenge and PEF are already included in the teacher workforce planning exercise
  • assumptions on retention rates on courses will be reviewed as they have remained unchanged for a number of years
  • GTCS figures show that there is a decrease in the number of teachers lapsing from the register
  • requirements for teachers in early years, additional support needs and sign language
  • look at the resources the teaching workforce already have eg:
    •   dual qualifications provide more employment opportunity for teachers
    •   encouraging primary teachers, eg with science degrees to retrain as secondary teachers– however, it was recognised that funding would be required to incentivise such a move for a teacher

Primary provision

5.7 For several years the teacher workforce planning statistical model has projected a need to decrease the intake to PGDE primary courses.  However, in recognition of the pressure in recruitment and demand for supply reported by local authorities in the primary sector, the TWPAG has advised that PGDE primary target intakes should increase.  The primary pupil projections are set to stabilise from 2018 onwards which mean less teachers are required. Continuing to recruit at current levels may result in teacher unemployment.

5.8 More data is required about local authority demand to help ensure the supply of teachers are in the locations where they are needed.  However, it has to be borne in mind that this is complicated by absence rates, the need to support supply cover, an authority’s use of retired teachers and the agreed pupil teacher ratio in a local authority.

Action 5: Consider with COSLA the collection of information from local authorities on how many teachers they need to ensure teachers are in the areas they are required.

Action 6: Consider the advertising messages needed in the next phase of the teacher recruitment campaign eg ensuring secondary teaching is at the forefront of people’s mind when considering a career in teaching.    

6. Item 6: New routes

6.1 Monitoring shows that the introduction of new routes into teaching has been successful with 370 undertaking courses.  Return to teaching courses have produce particularly good numbers.  SIR and PIM courses start in January.  The group will be kept up to date of progress as new routes become mainstream teacher provision. 

7. Date of next meeting

7.1 10.30 am Monday 29 October 2018.



Teaching Workforce Planning Advisory Group
c/o Scottish Government
Learning Directorate
Victoria Quay

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