DEPUTY First Minister John Swinney today heard an end-of-term report from students on a newly-launched teacher training programme.
Edinburgh Napier University had welcomed the first cohort of 46 students on to its innovative Professional Graduate Diploma in Education course in August.
The University is providing training in key science and technology subjects, supported by the Scottish Government as it looks to address teacher shortages in priority areas.
Today Mr Swinney, who is Cabinet Secretary for Education, visited the Sighthill-based School of Applied Sciences to check on the progress of the first intake of students as they completed the opening trimester of the new secondary teacher education courses in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
He spent an hour chatting to the students, who have developed their skills in the course of the trimester through a combination of university-based study and school placements. Mr Swinney visited the rooms used by students as mock classrooms, and got their thoughts on how to engage more youngsters in STEM subjects at school.
The year-long programme uses the latest teaching tools, including video analysis of body language, verbal communication and practical skills. Students – some recent graduates, others looking for a career change – also develop an understanding of how issues like dyslexia, inclusion and mental health impact on life in the classroom.
After recruiting more than 40 students for this academic year, the University plans to expand the intake to around 70 from next August.
Andrew Gallacher, the University’s Head of Teacher Education, said: “This brand new programme was, uniquely, created using feedback from focus groups of practising teachers and research on best practice.
“We drew on input ranging from early career teachers to those with more than 30 years’ experience to develop a focus on skills-based approaches to teaching and learning.
“In developing the specific learning and teaching skills, we have seen students become more confident in practical activities and better prepared for school placements and the early career challenges they will face.”
Mr Swinney found meeting the students to be an informative experience. The Education Secretary said: “We are doing everything we can to attract talented and enthusiastic people to the profession, and the new Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes at Edinburgh Napier offer more choice and flexibility for anyone considering teaching. Students will benefit from Edinburgh Napier’s expertise in STEM subject areas.
“It was great to meet the talented, passionate and enthusiastic student teachers and hear how much they are enjoying their courses. Their efforts will make a lasting, positive difference for our children and young people.”