New teacher training intake includes record number of science and maths students

A record number of students are training to be science and maths teachers at the University of Aberdeen this year, helping to address a shortage of teachers in these subjects in local classrooms.

A total of 59 students starting the University’s Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) are enrolled in science and maths subjects, compared to 33 in the previous academic year.

The increase has in part been attributed to the Transition into Education Scheme (TiES), which aims to retrain redundant oil and gas workers as secondary school teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

The scheme is a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government.

Joanne McCloskey, from Aberdeen, previously worked as a process engineer in the oil and gas industry and has enrolled to teach science with chemistry.

Joanne said: “So far the course is going really well - we have been studying for a number of weeks now and the classes have been really intensive. One of the main things to get used to is thinking in an academic way, but all of our tutors have been teachers themselves so we benefit from their experience.”

She added: “I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time, and I was going to apply for teacher training regardless of being made redundant.  I have done a lot of teaching and mentoring as a process engineer, and really enjoyed it.”

For Laura Dear, enrolling in teacher training marks a return to the University she graduated from with an engineering degree in the 1990s. 

Laura, from Aberdeen, is one of 23 new students training to become Maths teachers.  “I have always wanted to be a teacher, and one of the attractions of my previous degree was that it gave me the option to do so,” she said.

“I took a different path by moving into subsea engineering, but I’m glad to be back here at Aberdeen University and I’m relishing the new challenge.”

Andrew Smith from Elgin has also enrolled to teach maths, and is making an unlikely move from the kitchen to the classroom in order to fulfil his ambition of a teaching career.   “I have been a chef for the last three years, but I thought the time was right to move into teaching which is what I’ve always wanted to do. 

“So far it has been a great experience.  We do 19 weeks classroom placement over the year which is very intensive, but it will give us the experience we need to hit the ground running in the classroom.”

Helen Martin, a Maths lecturer who teaches the new PGDE students, said she is delighted to see the increase in STEM students this year. 

“While this has been helped by the Transition into Education Scheme, there is a positive trend towards STEM subject applications which will help address the shortage of teachers in this area,” she said.

“One of the really positive things about our new intake is that there is such a broad mix of people from different and interesting backgrounds, from former oil workers to ex-police officers.

“We have people from all walks of life who bring their own individual attributes, but share an obvious enthusiasm and passion for inspiring young minds.”