Scottish Education will always need teachers. There's no substitute for a well-qualified and well-prepared professional teacher leading the learning of motivated school students. But what characteristics does that teacher need to have?
Do we need more men in Scottish teaching, particularly in primary schools for younger children? The BBC reported last week on a campaign to get more men into primary teaching in England. But do children, especially boys, actually need male teachers - as role models, for better discipline, or whatever? Many parents don't care what gender the teacher is, its their skills and attitudes to the children that matter more.
And how should we best prepare recruit trainee teachers and train them to fulfill the role of practicising teacher? Given that a significant proportion of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years, something (or several things) isn't right.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education has just published a report about the quality of current provision of 'Student Teacher Placements in Initial Teacher Education'. Recent rapid expansion of numbers of students admitted to teacher training, done for very good reasons such as the ageing teacher workforce and desire to increase staffing input in key areas, caused problems in finding enough placement places for the students. The Inspectors make recommendations for improvement, including the need for all the key 'players' to work together better in the interests of ensuring a sufficient supply of high-quality new entrants to the profession.