Deputy First Minister meets a new generation of student teachers

By Press Office

Today (30 October) John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, visited Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (QMU) to learn how the University is taking a distinctive and fresh approach to the education of student teachers.

In collaboration with the Scottish Government, QMU launched its new teaching education programmes this autumn. With a real-world approach and a broad-based social science curriculum, these courses take full account of the educational needs of school pupils now and in the future.

During his visit, Mr Swinney saw the first cohort of undergraduate primary education students participate in a workshop on academic literacies, featuring discussion on topics ranging from digital literacy to climate change. He also heard how QMU is featuring education in British Sign Language in its teaching courses, exemplifying the University’s focus on inclusive education. Mr Swinney also met students on the University’s postgraduate course in home economics, and learned how they are being taught to educate young people in food, nutrition, health and wellbeing and the connection between these issues and addressing climate change.  

Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University said: “As a university particularly focused on social justice, we were delighted to have the opportunity to show the Deputy First Minister how our education curricula is distinctive in the focus on encouraging tomorrow’s teachers to engage with issues such as inequality, child welfare, lifespan psychology and wellbeing. Against a backdrop of society’s concern about the mental health of young people, we were also proud to show Mr Swinney how our courses are designed to enable graduate teachers to promote resilience and wellbeing in school pupils, and in turn enabling Scotland’s young people to fulfil their full academic potential.

“As Mr Swinney will have witnessed himself from meeting our first cohort of education students, we are attracting students who are passionate about equality of opportunity, and who want to make a real difference in the world by developing young people.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said: "The new QMU Primary and Home Economics teacher-training programmes offer more choice and flexibility. Supported by £878,000 funding from the Scottish Government, the programmes open up new routes to attract new teachers.

“I was very pleased to meet so many talented and enthusiastic student teachers who are enjoying their courses and have the passion and enthusiasm to make a lasting, positive difference for our children and young people.”

The launch of initial teacher education at QMU fits with the University’s wider strategy of delivering a portfolio of professionally relevant programmes that serve the needs of society. The University has significant experience in relevant research and knowledge exchange, for example in social policy development, child welfare, additional support needs, resilience and peer education. Combining this with the University’s significant experience of dealing with professional bodies, the new initial teacher education provision aligns strongly with the University’s strategy, values and experience.

Reflecting QMU’s particularly strong track record of community engagement, as well as placements within schools, there will be opportunities for students to gain wider practical experience in the community, such visits to refugee centres and specialised settings offering support and therapy for young people with complex needs.


Notes to Editor

In September 2019, QMU launched its new initial teacher education courses. 

 These initial teacher education course are:

  • BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) – for those who aim to become registered classroom primary school teachers (120 places per year). As well as preparing students to inspire young learners, this course will engage our students in the wider social issues that affect education on every level and how these factors influence educational outcomes.
  • BA (Hons) Education Studies – for those who aim to work in education related settings, but not as registered teachers (20 places per year). Professional pathways could include adult community education, overseas humanitarian education, or teaching roles in special settings such as hospitals.
  • PDGE (Home Economics) - for those who will become registered secondary education teachers of home economics (20 places per year). This course extends far beyond the kitchen to explore issues such as the correlation between nutrition, wellbeing and cognitive/emotional development. The course also covers environmental sustainability. Students will explore interconnected topics including food poverty, body image, eating disorders, food bank use and the obesity-poverty paradox.

In line with our educational ethos, we will provide a full rounded education to our students, not simply training: we will prepare them to be autonomous, flexible, adaptable and critically thinking. In other words, we will prepare them for a successful career, not just their first job.

Reflecting our distinctly social science approach to initial teacher education, our new courses are hosted within our Division of Psychology, Sociology and Education, which receives excellent NSS results for its existing courses (100% Overall Satisfaction in Psychology & Sociology, and in Public Sociology, in the NSS 2019).

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