Inquiry on recruiting and training new teachers


About the Inquiry


The Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee is cross party and responsible for holding the Scottish Government and others to account on school education policy and how it works in practice.

In 2017 we did a big inquiry into recruitment and retention of teachers.  

Now we want to hear from you on whether our findings from 2017 about recruiting and training new teachers still apply, what progress has been made and what challenges exist now. 

We are looking at the experiences of student teachers including their experiences on their ITE course, in work placements and probation in schools.


Evidence sessions will begin in March

2017 inquiry findings – Has progress been made on these issues? What is your view now? 

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government reviews the practice of raising the number of training places to improve recruitment levels. This approach does not address the factors influencing interest in becoming a teacher. These factors include: the perception of teaching in society (including the perspective of pupils and parents); the experiences of existing teachers; and pay. Teachers are crucial to the success of the education system and addressing challenges facing existing teachers is fundamental to increasing the number of people who want to become a teacher.

Recommendation 2: The Committee commends the work of Moray House in constructing its MSc in Transformative Learning and Teaching course in a way that enables students to achieve the required Higher English qualification on completing the course. This is as opposed to having Higher English as an entry requirement. This approach ensures that eligible candidates are not overlooked by overly restrictive course entry thresholds. The Committee encourages other teacher training institutions to highlight to the GTCS how an increased number of suitable candidates could gain entry to their courses. 

Recommendation 3: The Committee also recommends that the GTCS reviews all of its entry requirements to ensure that innovative solutions such as these are being implemented wherever possible but without compromising on the ability of the individuals coming into teaching. 

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that, where a teacher training institution is not able to provide a place to a student because the student does not meet the institution's specific standards, the institution should direct the individual to the GTCS. The GTCS should then provide advice on which institutions the candidate would be eligible to apply to. 

Literacy and numeracy 

Recommendation 5: Having teachers that understand, and are able to teach, the core skills of literacy and numeracy to children in their formative years is an absolutely fundamental requirement in improving attainment in literacy and numeracy. The Committee notes the evidence from teacher training institutions explaining the complexities of ITE course content and that counting hours is too simplistic as a stand-alone approach to assessing ITE. The Committee is concerned that the baseline of quality in relation to course content, and student ability, may be lacking in some instances.

 Recommendation 6: The Committee welcomes the Government's acknowledgement of the issues raised in evidence. The Committee recommends that the actions to be undertaken in response include an investigation into the extent of the problems raised in relation to literacy and numeracy. This should include assessing baseline standards on all courses for student primary teachers. It should also include an assessment of the entry requirements for these courses and the standards achieved on qualification. The Committee notes that certain issues, including in relation to primary school courses and student entry levels, have been raised previously by the 2011 Donaldson Report and the 2016 STEMEC Report. 

GTCS’ role 

Recommendation 7: The Committee recommends that the cycle of revisiting existing courses to renew accreditation should be shorter to ensure course content is responsive to the changing needs of Scottish education. The Committee recommends that the Government considers the benefits of making one organisation responsible for the accreditation of ITE courses and the assessment of the delivery of these courses.
Additional Support Needs 

Recommendation 8:

The Committee welcomes the evidence received from student teachers highlighting the variation across different teacher training institutions and placements regarding training on supporting pupils with additional support needs, including that education on additional support needs is not guaranteed in some courses, which has left some student teachers unprepared to support those pupils with additional needs. 

Recommendation 9:

The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government works with the GTCS to address the inconsistency in additional support needs education during Initial Teacher Education, with the aim of ensuring that all teachers receive high quality baseline training which prepares them to assist pupils with a range of additional needs, regardless of which institution and course they receive their initial teacher education in.
Online safety 

Recommendation 10: The Committee is also concerned at evidence from student teachers reflecting a lack of content in their courses on online safety for children. The Committee welcomes the Government’s acknowledgement of this issue and recommends that the Government works with the GTCS to ensure high quality baseline training is received by all student teachers. 

Student placements 

Recommendation 11:

The Committee recommends that there should be service level agreements between teacher training institutions and education authorities as standard for student placements. These should set out the requirements on each body and also establish a means for students to feedback their experiences. Any deficiencies with the quality of work placements should then be reported to the GTCS for mediation and resolution. 

Recommendation 12:

The Committee also recommends that, in moving to the opt-out system, there should be a system for schools to highlight to education authorities instances where a school is stopping short of opting-out but has real concerns in relation to its ability to support student placements due to limited resources including teacher time. This information should be used to assist education authorities in performing their duty of care role. It should also be used to inform the GTCS in its role overseeing how the Student Placement System is functioning. This information should also be collated and made publicly available as a means of assessing the number of schools that consider themselves to be under significant pressure. 

Recommendation 13:

Given the increased number of teachers that are likely to become mentors under the opt-out system, and that all teachers should be prepared to take on such a role for student teachers or probationers where possible and beneficial, the Committee recommends that emphasis on the importance of mentoring should feature in local working time agreements. This could include a specific allocation of non-contact time. 

Recommendation 14: In relation to the logic of which student is placed where, the system does not seem very sophisticated to the Committee, with students reporting a lack of recognition of childcare and other practical considerations. The Committee welcomes the efforts to improve the placement system, including longer lead in times for students and schools planning placements. The Committee requests a progress report from the GTCS at the end of the next academic year on how the system is being tailored to individual circumstances (including feedback from student teachers). This is to ensure the "lottery" reported by some students is not a common experience in the future.  

The full Committee inquiry report these recommendations came from is available here 


The Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in December 2019 seeking details of work undertaken in response to the Committee’s recommendations since 2017:


The Committee received the following submissions:

Initial Teacher Education providers

Local Authorities


Other organisations

Student teachers

Teachers and teaching unions


Other Individuals


The Committee surveyed student teachers and recently qualified teachers.

Read the SPICe analysis of responses here.

Read the written responses on remaining in the profession in the long term here.


The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills wrote to the Convener in respect of the Initial Teacher Education intake targets for 2020/2021,

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