Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government (Joint Chair)
  • Carrie McLennan, Scottish Council Deans Education (SCDE)(Joint Chair)

  • Hulda Sveinsdottir, Aberdeen University

  • Michael Wood, Association of Directors Education in Scotland (ADES)

  • Greg Dempster, Association of Head and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS)

  • Chris Alliston, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

  • Pauline Stephen, General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)

  • Gavin Bruce, Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Scarlett Campbell,  Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

  • Graham Hutton, Scottish Funding Council (SLS)

  • Stuart Brown, Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT)

  • David Nicholson, Scottish Government

  • Zak Tuck, Scottish Government

  • Scott Brand, Scottish Government

  • Lucy Rudkin, Scottish Government


  • Morag Redford, University of the West Scotland (UWS)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Stuart Robb welcomed members and stated that the purpose of the meeting was to agree national intake targets for initial teacher education programmes for academic year 2024-2025.

Minutes of meeting on 26 October 2023 (paper TWPAG/2022/1)

 Stuart Robb said that the minutes from the October meeting had been approved by the group following that meeting and will be published on the SG website.

GTCS paper (TWPAG/2023/2)

Pauline Stephen introduced the paper from the GTCS. She made the following points:

  • the GTCS has a requirement to advise Scottish Ministers on matters relating to the supply of teachers and this paper is intended to meet that obligation. The paper will become an annual publication and it can be expanded to meet further information needs

  • the growth in the numbers of teachers on the register is due to teachers in independent schools and college lecturers now requiring to be registered

  • the qualified outside Scotland route is also seeing an increase in applications with around 1,400 received this year. This could be in part due to teachers using the GTCS process to get registration that will be recognised by other countries and the application fee is also much lower than that being charged by other countries

  • there had been 38 removals from the register

Members offered the following comments on the paper:

  • a breakdown of teachers by subject was requested for the next version

  • the growth in numbers does not suggest issues with retention although it was acknowledged that not all on the register are available for employment with some working outside of Scotland. GTCS will consider making the updating of employment details mandatory

  • country of origin data would be useful for the next version

  • GTCS publishing data on assessment of qualifications from outside of Scotland as part of the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Act

SCILT (Scotland’s National Centre for Languages) paper (TWPAG/2023/3)

Stuart Robb introduced this paper and said it had been received from the SCILT Advisory Group. He added that many of the issues raised will be addressed by the workstreams being progressed by the Strategic Board for Teacher Education (SBTE).

Members offered the following comments on the paper:

  • SCDE have a languages sub-group. They have found that recruitment to language programmes is being negatively affected following EU withdrawal as this has resulted in an increase to fees for EU students and these students are not  eligible for the Teacher Induction Scheme.

  • language teachers need to have at least 2 languages to allow employers to use them effectively. Some languages were being dropped by schools due to lack of interest

  • the GTCS’s review of entry requirements has identified issues such as residency requirements and the definitions of modern foreign languages, community languages and classical languages. Some teachers are being registered as language teachers without having completed an ITE programme in the subject

Education Workforce Modelling exercise (oral update)

Scott Brand updated the Group on the “Education Workforce Modelling and Analysis” project. This is being taken forward by independent contractors and will help inform decisions on education workforce planning for future years. This work will bring together a range of factors including current teacher numbers, pupil teacher ratios and the projected decline in the number of school-aged children. The outputs will assist progress on commitments to reducing teachers’ class contact time. The contractor is currently undertaking this work and will report in early January 2024. The report will be published once it has been fully considered.

Members made the following comments:

  • the report will be a useful evidence base for SNCT discussions on class contact time

  • need clarity on whether education is excluded from recent announcements on a reduced public sector

  • this report needs to be the basis of a medium/long term workforce staffing strategy

Recruitment to initial teacher education (ITE) in 2023-2024 (paper TWPAG/2023/4A and B provisional for information)

Scott Brand spoke to a paper outlining the enrolments against targets for 2023-2024 academic year. This showed that Primary programmes both PGDE and undergraduate had met targets but that Secondary PGDE and undergraduate had not met targets. The Secondary PGDE in particular had only achieved 50% of target.

Members offered the following comments:

  • it would be useful to have the percentage against targets especially for individual subjects and applications

  • a comparison with other countries would be useful

  • applications were also reducing both for ITE and more generally across universities

  • secondary PGDE received around 5,000 applications and it is necessary to understand why that does not translate into more acceptances

  • SBTE workstreams will consider recruitment issues in more detail

  • consideration needed on how the system will cope with less graduates and if this will result in significant structural changes

  • a longitudinal review of secondary subject recruitment needed to identify consequences for schools

  • home student fees not covering university costs

  • universities considering how to attract non-ITE students into teaching. This could involve a taster module that gives students placement experience in schools

Teacher Workforce Planning 2023 exercise – statistical model (paper TWPAG/2023/5)

David Nicholson introduced the statistical model paper. He made the following points:

  • modelling approach is based on maintaining teacher numbers at 2022 census levels

  • pupil projections show a decrease in primary with secondary peaking in 2025 and then reducing in line with primary rolls

  • between 2017 to 2022 there had been a rise in teacher numbers of 2,700

  • the age profile of the profession is decreasing

  • Teacher Induction Scheme drop off rates are very high. 27% for primary and 18% for secondary

  • the PTR drops to historic low if teacher numbers are maintained

  • the model shows 1,000 students needed for PGDE Primary and 1,000 students needed for PGDE Secondary  

Members offered the following comments:

  • should the census now include teachers in independent schools

  • anecdotal evidence of an over-supply in primary but some rural authorities still have recruitment issues

  • secondary target needs to increase to recognise vacancies and present positive messaging

  • need reliable local authority information down to subject requirements

  • need to understand reasons for high drop out rates from the Teacher Induction Scheme which could be linked to undertaking ITE during the pandemic

  • ITE delivery models need reviewed to consider “grow your own” programmes

  • university are being financially penalised due to artificially high PGDE secondary targets

  • targets need to be ambitious but penalising universities seems counter-productive

Stuart Robb summarised that:

  • PGDE primary and undergraduate targets should be maintained and that a local authority analysis will be helpful in identifying where need is greater

  • PGDE Secondary and undergraduate targets should be maintained but recognise that further actions are needed to assist universities in meeting targets

  • a strategy is needed that includes considering the appeal of ITE programmes and this is being progressed by the SBTE

Next steps

Stuart Robb said that the advice from TWPAG will be forwarded to the Cabinet Secretary. Following this the Scottish Government will meet with the Scottish Funding Council prior to formally writing to them. If there are any revisions from the TWPAG advice, then this will be communicated as soon as possible to TWPAG.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be scheduled for late January/early February 2024.

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