New integrated course tackles STEM teacher shortage

Chemistry teaching laboratory.

Strathclyde has developed a pilot Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) with Masters in response to the Scottish Government’s plans to address recruitment challenges in the STEM sectors.

The pilot course allows 20 STEM graduates planning to teach in the areas of chemistry, mathematics or physics, to attain a PGDE alongside a Masters in Education (MEd) at Strathclyde. The course is funded by Scottish Government and accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

The pilot will begin in August 2017 and offers an opportunity for students to enter the workforce earlier than those on the usual PGDE course.

Professor David Kirk, Head of the University’s School of Education, said: “We hope that the structure of the PDGE and Masters will allow us to attract new students into the profession in future years, meeting the growing demand for highly-qualified teachers in STEM subjects across the UK.

“Any recent STEM graduates are welcome to apply for the course, which will allow them to achieve a Masters while pursuing a career in teaching. We hope that by encouraging more teachers into STEM today, we’ll give them the chance to use their skills to inspire young people in STEM subjects for generations to come.”

Following completion of the PGDE, students will enter a probationary period and will continue to be supported by the University to complete their Masters qualification. Schools will also benefit from the pilot programme by having the same student teaching their STEM subject for a two-year period.

The new approach was created after the Scottish Council of Deans of Education asked institutions for ideas to help tackle shortages in STEM teaching areas. In total, 11 alternative routes into to teaching are being adopted by six institutions across the country. The initiative is backed by more than £1million from the Scottish Government Attainment Scotland Fund.

As the accrediting body for Initial Education Programmes, GTC Scotland is holding a number of further accreditation events to consider the range of new programmes being developed. Chief Executive and Registrar Ken Muir said:

“GTC Scotland is very mindful of its role in ensuring that these new routes maintain and enhance the high standards of teaching and teacher education expected within our graduate teaching profession.

“These new routes will go some way towards addressing the very real need to bring more high-quality teachers into the teaching profession in Scotland. GTC Scotland is prioritising the accreditation of new programmes as part of our work to enhance teacher professionalism that will benefit children and young people across the country.”