Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Committee, Councillor Jeff Leaver, has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Angela Constance MSP, seeking her support for the Council’s “Grow Your Own Teachers” initiative.
Like many rural councils, Dumfries and Galloway is finding it difficult to recruit and retain sufficient teachers in some areas and some specialisations. This is a particular problem with primary school teachers in the west of the region and this initiative offers existing council employees who already have a degree, to study locally for a post graduate certificate of education while still being employed by the council. More than 25 employees, most of whom are already employed by the education department but not as teachers, have indicated that they would be keen to take up this opportunity for a career change.
Following discussions between council education officers and the Universities of the West of Scotland and Glasgow at their Crichton campuses in Dumfries it was decided to proceed with the initiative in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland which already delivers a Primary teacher PGCE here. However, this would require the Scottish Government to authorise additional places at the Crichton. Unfortunately talks between the Scottish Government, the University of the West of Scotland and the Council’s Education Officers which had been sought since March had not taken place. However, following a written question from Dumfriesshire MSP, Elaine Murray, to the Scottish Government regarding this, these will now take place early this month. Councillor Leaver has now written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for her further assistance in developing this initiative and pointing out how important it is in maintaining Dumfries and Galloway Council low pupil/teacher ratio which at 12.7 is the lowest in mainland Scotland and well below the Scottish Government’s target level of 13.5.
Councillor Leaver said: “This very novel programme which offers local, more mature graduates the opportunity to train as teachers while still earning a wage. These folk already live and work in our region and are therefore much more likely to stay here and pursue their new teaching careers. This is critically important this year since the Scottish Government has made it an absolute rule to receive additional funding to freeze the council tax that there will be flexibility in teacher numbers and should we be even one teacher less on census day in September than we are now, this region will lose more than £3million of funding at a time when services are already facing unprecedented cuts.”