A SCOTTISH teacher who did her training through a controversial fast-track scheme in England has called for it to be introduced north of the Border.

Fiona McGregor, 29, from Aberdeenshire, said signing up to Teach First in 2011 had allowed her to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher and it would help fill vacant posts in Scotland.

Teach First is controversial because under its existing model trainees are allowed to start work after a five week summer school.

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The organisation is talking to the Scottish Government after ministers decided to put out to tender a new fast-track teacher training course targeted at plugging vacancies in rural schools and key subjects such as science, technology and maths.

However, teaching unions have reacted angrily to the suggestion arguing the model undermines traditional university courses.

Ms McGregor, who has a degree in environmental biology and geography from St Andrews University, turned to Teach First after missing out on a place at a Scottish teacher training institute.

After successfully graduating she has been working as a science teacher in schools in deprived parts of the north east of England including Hartlepool and Gateshead - where she now has a leadership role in a state secondary.

She said: “I always knew I wanted to do teaching. I worked in lots of summer camps when I was younger and did a teaching module when I was at university and did lots of sports coaching because I have always wanted to work with young people.

“I applied for a postgraduate course in Aberdeen, but unfortunately I didn’t get in because there was such a high demand, and that’s when I applied for Teach First.

“My mum read about it and said I should give it a go and so I went for it and got through the application process.”

Ms McGregor completed a six week course at a summer institute which included lectures and school visits.

She said: “It was a very intense six weeks. We spent a lot of time with university tutors and different trainers from the scheme.

“We were very aware of the challenges we were facing going into a school straight away, but it wasn’t like we did six weeks and then were left in our schools.

“We had lots of support and for me it is the way I learn best, by just going in and doing it. It wasn’t a case of sitting in a lecture hall for a long time and then going in and doing it.”

Ms McGregor said she didn’t feel the short nature of the initial summer school was detrimental to pupils because of the ongoing support.

“It is quite daunting, but I would much rather get in there and get my teeth into it and learn that way,” she said.

“When you are on your own you take ownership of what you are doing and you have to get it right and you have to work hard because there is no other option.

“There were always people I could get advice from, but you have to do it and you have to be good and it worked for me.”

Ms McGregor said she understood why there was concern about expanding the model to Scotland, but felt it would be very beneficial.

She said: “People were very sceptical in the north east of England and there were lots of schools that didn’t want Teach First coming in, but a lot of schools have bought into it now.

“As a product of Scottish education I think it is very unfortunate that I have had to leave the country to do what I want to do.

“If you look at the amount of graduates that leave universities and go somewhere other than Scotland it is massive and something needs to be done to retain good graduates in our country that are going to benefit the pupils in Scotland.

“With the whole focus on the attainment gap between rich and poor at the moment it would be a great shame if those attitudes held Scotland back from change that would be beneficial.”