Design and technology teacher posts go unfilled – TES

Fears for D&T as teaching posts go unfilled
More than one in five Scottish secondary schools has at least one vacancy for a design and technology teacher, a new report reveals.
The research also shows that many schools are grappling with more than one unfilled technological education teaching post.
Of the 254 secondaries that took part in an Education Scotland survey about craft, design, engineering and graphics delivery, 58 (or 23 per cent) reported having vacancies in the subject, with 83 vacancies identified across the 58 schools.
The survey was carried out between January and April, with 71 per cent of Scottish secondaries taking part, and the report was published earlier in November.
Caroline McFarlane, a craft and design faculty head in Aberdeenshire, said she is genuinely concerned about the future of the subject and that difficulties in teacher recruitment do not align with government rhetoric about the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) to the Scottish economy.
Ms McFarlane added: “I’m worried the subject just dies out through neglect. There is meant to be this push for Stem, Stem, Stem but I’m developing a real loathing for the Stem acronym….because the focus is always on science and maths. We are always lagging behind.
“The latest Stem strategy report looked at Stem teacher numbers over time but didn’t mention design and technology teachers. There are targets set for raising attainment in maths but in some schools students aren’t even being exposed to engineering or technology until S3. How are they supposed to know if it’s something they want to do?”
According to Ms McFarlane, delivery of the subject in the first three years of secondary can be hampered by staff shortages because schools concentrate on providing classes for students in upper secondary.
The Education Scotland survey shows that engineering science, in particular, tended to be neglected in the first two years of secondary.
Of the 254 schools that took part in the poll, fewer than half offered engineering science in S1, and fewer than half offered engineering in S2.
Meanwhile, 10 schools offered no craft, design, engineering and graphics at all in S1, but that figure dropped to just two schools in S2.
Ms McFarlane said: “There are students who realise the subjects we deliver are for them, but you see others perform this massive pivot when they experience design and technology in the broad general education [BGE] and realise they actually really enjoy it. If they don’t get that exposure in the BGE – which is what happens in schools that have poor staffing because they prioritise the senior phase – they have two terms to build their skills before they begin work on their final project.
“Our subject isn’t like maths or other content-heavy subjects where they have until May to hone their skills ahead of the exams – some of these projects are really complicated so they start on them at the end of December or the beginning of January.”
Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says in the foreword to the Stem training strategy, published in 2017, when she was an education minister, that it is “critical that Scotland recognises the value of, and achieves its full potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics”. She adds that the government “is committed to ensuring we have a highly educated and skilled population equipped with the Stem skills, knowledge and capability required to adapt and thrive in the fast-paced changing world and economy around us”.
One goal set out in the strategy was that student teacher intake targets should be hit for all Stem subjects.
However, when it comes to technological education, recruitment on to initial teacher education (ITE) courses has been below target since at least 2015. Last year the target was to recruit 85 technological education teachers on to ITE courses but just 53 were actually recruited – meaning over a third of places went unfilled.
In the previous year (2020-21) 28 per cent of spaces went unfilled and in 2019-20 half of places went unfilled.
This year the target is once again to recruit 85 technological education teachers. Early next year the Scottish government will reveal if the target has been hit – or, more likely, the extent to which it has been missed.
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Fears for D&T as teaching posts go unfilled
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