Pioneering pilot seeks to solve STEM teaching crisis

The University of Dundee will this week launch a pioneering new programme aiming to address Scotland’s chronic shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers.

From January 2018, the University’s School of Education and Social Work will welcome up to 35 student-inductees onto a new 52-week Supported Induction Route (SIR) for potential chemistry, computing, home economics, mathematics and physics teachers.

The pilot scheme integrates the existing one-year Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) qualification and the probationary year undertaken by new teachers. Student-inductees will receive a £22,400 salary from the outset and will be fully-registered teachers several months earlier than at present.

The programme will be launched at the University’s Dalhousie Building from 5-7pm on Wednesday 13 September. The three-year pilot is being funded by the Scottish Government, who will be represented at the event alongside University staff and graduates of Dundee’s existing teacher education programme.

Scotland’s pupils returned to school last month with 700 teaching vacancies across the country. The situation is particularly acute across the STEM subjects with an estimated 45 of technical education places on PGDE courses unfilled in 2016, a situation that the Dundee scheme seeks to address.

“Supported Induction recognises teaching's critical importance to our country’s future,” said Lauren Boath, Lecturer in Education at the University and leader of the SIR programme. “If Scotland is to prosper in the 21st century we need scientists, engineers and technologists to help tackle the great global challenges of the age and for that to happen we need to instill in our children a passion for these subjects that carries through into their working lives or further studies.

“The problem is that there simply aren’t enough STEM graduates choosing to go into teaching. In recent years there have been numerous initiatives to try and encourage these graduates to consider a career in teaching but we still face a shortfall on our conventional teacher education programmes. If we are going to turn this around then we have to think outside the box.”

The intensive SIR will see student-inductees undertake more University-based learning time than on the existing PGDE programme and they will study Masters-level modules. After an initial block of face-to-face teaching, each student-inductee will be paired with a mentor in their identified placement school. The student-inductees will observe their mentor in the classroom and work closely with them before they are given their first opportunity to take a class under supervision.

Responsibility for planning learning and teaching is introduced at the same pace as the current PGDE programme. In all, student-inductees undertake 37 weeks of placements. In the latter half, contact time is limited to 18 hours a week, in line with current probationers.

Student-inductees will spend each Friday in University during placement periods and will study full-time during summer holidays and other identified times. The programme has been developed by the School of Education and Social Work in conjunction with local authority partners and has been informed by feedback from current and past trainee teachers.

Lauren continued, “It is essential a diverse range of routes into the profession exist, particularly for anyone considering a career change several years after graduating. We know from speaking to those in this group that a year without pay, childcare, travel and other logistical challenges proves prohibitive for many. Not only will our student-inductees earn a wage, but they will be based in the same school throughout the entire programme, providing certainty and continuity.”

More information about SIR is available at

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 384768
Mobile: 07854 953277