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Schools say subject choice problem is made worse by teacher shortages

2 Apr 2019

7 out of 10 Scottish schools who responded to a Scottish Parliamentary survey have stated that problems recruiting teachers have put further constraints on subject choice.

The survey was organised as part of the official inquiry into narrowing subject choice due to be discussed in the Holyrood education committee on Wednesday morning.

Of the schools which responded to the survey, 72 per cent said that a lack of teachers constrained subject choice at S4 level either ‘a great deal’ or to ‘some extent’.

In addition to these findings, the committee papers mention respondents’ concerns about the “lack of clarity in the national policy’.

For example, one respondent wrote: “The diversity in opportunity across the country regarding how many courses a child can pursue in S4 is something which I believe must be reviewed at a national level. There is significant variation from authority to authority and this has the potential to become something of a post code lottery for young people.”

Another added: “Over the last few years there has been a lack of clarity in advice for the senior phase – particularly over how more than 6 subjects can be taken in S4 and how that relates to the purpose and rationale for S3.”

While a third respondent noted, “The continuing ambiguity at national level in this regard is unhelpful.”

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary said;

“Many experts have told us that subject choice in Scottish schools has narrowed significantly under the SNP.

“Now schools themselves have told the Scottish Parliament that a lack of teachers is an additional constraint.

“Far from providing the broad based curriculum that Scottish children were promised, the weaknesses in the SNP’s delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence and the lack of good workforce planning is undermining Scottish education.

“The evidence which has been submitted to the Education and Skills Committee lays bare the extent of the subject choice problem under the SNP – something which is bound to have a detrimental impact on the ability of young people to get the qualifications they both want and need.

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue given the significant implications for the Scottish economy.”