Science lags in Scotland

Tuesday 18th April 2017
Sustrans volunteers: but science subjects limping

Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville (below right) has said that teaching is seen as an "altruistic" profession and that "other careers are more financially attractive". She added that more needs to be done to convince graduates that teaching is both "inspirational and a worthwhile career.” But on the heels of science teacher needs, come Scottish University failings as well.

The STEM Scotland conference in Edinburgh, run by Holyrood has heard yet again that Scotland "has gone backwards" in computer science teaching, well known  to the extent that exam paper questions set were inaccurate and accordingly unanswerable. Scottish entrepreneur Ian Ritchie, founder of tech trade body ScotlandIS, complains that a 14 per cent drop in computer science teachers over the last 20 years as graduates can get much better paying jobs" elsewhere. Somerville agreed that more must be done to encourage people with industry experience to become teachers.

She is on record that there are challenges, because other careers are more financially attractive. But she also noted that research into  Inspiring Teaching campaign showed people who wanted to get into teaching, wanted to do it for very altruistic reasons. 

Ritchie  (left) is quoted "Nicola Sturgeon has said we need 12,000 new people with digital skills every year for the foreseeable future.   But Scotland’s universities currently only graduate around 3,000 computer graduates, and many from international destinations t return home. It is a massive gap that  starts in the schools and he adds that in the last 20 years Scotland has also gone “backwards” with 14 per cent fewer computer science teachers in school than 20 years ago.

"I understand that obviously with the computing industry booming, people coming out of university with degrees probably don’t want to go into teaching because they can get much better jobs, but there must be solutions to this."

General Secretary for  Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, Seamus Searson (right)  noted that  "Most people enter teaching as a vocation with a willingness to make a difference but the reality being that teaching does not pay the bills is coming home to roost. 

Iain Gray And he pointed out teachers are attracted by well-paid jobs abroad, finding three years work affords enough money for a mortgage. Why would they stay?  Scottish Government needs to realise education is in crisis and a real investment is needed quickly.”

Scottish Labour's education spokesman  (left) Iain Gray said: "At some point the SNP must acknowledge that under its government we pay teachers less, provide fewer support staff, have bigger class sizes and more class contact time than almost anywhere else in the devolved world. No wonder they struggle to recruit more teachers."


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