The University of Glasgow will use new funding from the Scottish Government to provide staff and materials for Catholic teaching qualifications to be taught at the universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh.
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education, announced the move as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to combating the shortage of Catholic teachers in Scotland.
The University of Glasgow is currently the sole provider of Catholic school teachers in Scotland via the St Andrews Foundation – a body within the University’s School of Education which exists to supply teachers to Catholic schools.
Dr. Leonardo Franchi, former Director of the St. Andrews Foundation (a currently vacant post), has stated: “[This move] cements the University of Glasgow’s status as the hub of Catholic teacher education in Scotland”.
Speaking to the Scottish Catholic Observer at a St Andrews Foundation event, Mr Swinney expressed admiration for the “relentless efforts” of Catholic school teachers.
He continued: “I am [...] pleased that the Scottish Government is able to support the work of the University of Glasgow in supporting more teachers to gain the certificate they need to teach in Catholic schools, addressing the demand for teachers and future leaders in Catholic schools.”
Earlier this year, Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow and President of the Catholic Education Commission, said that the Commission was “working hard with the University of Glasgow and others to improve the supply of [Catholic school] teachers.” He warned that the shortage of such teachers was “a critical issue which may have significant consequences.”
However, the Archbishop had a considerably more optimistic tone, stating that by June next year there would be “nearly 350 extra teachers qualified to teach RE [Religious Education] within Catholic schools.”
He also added that the Setting Out On The Road scheme, an introductory course on teaching RE in Catholic schools, has attracted more than 200 teachers from across Scotland.
James McCrory, President of the Catholic Primary Head Teachers in Scotland, said he came away from the St Andrews Conference with a sense that Catholic schools are “very much a part of government plans.”
In addition, Barbara Coupar, Director of SCES (Scottish Catholic Education Service), said that “significant steps” were being taken on the issue of teacher shortages, and feels that Mr Swinney “has a personal experience of the quality of what Catholic education can bring.”