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14 February 2017, 11:37
Universities will have almost 400 more places on teacher training courses next year, paid for with more than £3 million of Scottish Government cash.
Education Secretary John Swinney announced the number of places will increase by 371 at the start of the academic year 2017-18, to a total of 3,861.
It is the sixth year in a row that student teacher numbers have risen, according to the Scottish Government.
The announcement comes at a time when the SNP administration has come under fire over education standards in Scotland's schools.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson claimed on Monday ministers have been ''asleep at the wheel on education'' and that ''constitutional division has taken precedence over education reform''.
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has pressed the First Minister on falling teacher numbers, claiming schools have lost 4,000 such staff since the SNP came to power in 2007, including 826 science and maths teachers.
A new teacher recruitment campaign launched by the Government last week aims to attract more teachers to key science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
Mr Swinney said: "To give all our young people the best opportunity of success, we need to have the right number of skilled teachers in our schools.
"That is why we worked with local authorities to increase teacher numbers this year, with an additional 253 teachers in Scottish classrooms, and are upping student places for the sixth consecutive year.
"We know our student teacher targets are stretching, which is why we are supporting universities to meet them through our new teacher recruitment campaign and £1 million from the Scottish Attainment Fund to develop new routes into the profession.''
He added: "I recognise that some councils have faced challenges with teacher recruitment.
"Today's announcement is a further demonstration of the action this Government is taking to help them attract more people into teaching and widen the pool of available talent.''
Mr Swinney announced the extra places in a speech to the Aberdeen Learning Festival, where he also urged former oil and gas workers to consider a career in teaching.
The Education Secretary said: "Our focus on Stem subjects means applications from people with skills and experience in the oil and gas industry will be welcomed.
"We have already supported 12 oil and gas workers retrain for a new career in teaching through our transition training fund (TTF) and we are considering how this support might continue in future.''