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Friday 9th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

SCOTTISH teachers are preparing the fightback against SNP plans to fast-track unqualified university graduates into schools.

The Scottish government reportedly decided last week to put its own version of the Teach First model out to tender.

In England and Wales, the Teach First social enterprise charity allows would-be teachers to bypass a year studying for a postgraduate diploma in education, instead giving them five weeks intensive training at university then landing them in a classroom expected to fulfil 80 per cent of a full timetable.

It has led to teacher burnout, high turnover rates and falling standards.

Teachers’ union EIS will take the “incredibly rare” step of debating an emergency motion on the issue at its annual general meeting tomorrow, after taking the “almost unprecedented” decision to convene a special meeting of its council before the AGM yesterday.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS has always strongly opposed any approach which places delivering education cheaply above guaranteeing quality education provision for all Scotland’s young people.”

He said the emergency motion “reaffirms our very strong view that parachuting non-qualified people into schools is not a solution to the recruitment challenges that schools across Scotland are facing. We cannot dilute standards for the sake of political expediency.”

Mr Flanagan said the way to attract more graduates into teaching would be taking steps to halt the decline in teachers’ real-terms pay and cutting excessive teacher workload.

To address the staffing crisis in schools, the Scottish government is spending £1 million on ways to attract people into teaching and plans to put a new initiative out to tender aimed at attracting high-quality graduates in priority areas and subjects.

A Scottish government spokesman denied accusations that they plan to bypass universities to fast-track graduates into teaching.

He said: “As we have made very clear, any new route into teaching will require a partnership with a university to maintain academic rigour and all programmes must be of the highest quality.

“Initial teacher education is provided through universities with all courses accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

“The approach referred to in the EIS motion is not our intention.

“Our plans are about attracting more people with the right skills and abilities to become teachers, by developing new routes and making training available to people from a wider range of backgrounds, and without compromising quality.”