THAT there is a teacher recruitment problem is not in doubt, nor that it is partly self-inflicted. Education Secretary John Swinney recently admitted the SNP government erred when it cut training numbers.

The reason was understandable. Teachers were struggling to find jobs because of oversupply in Scotland. So between 2009-10 and 2010-11, training places were slashed by 40 per cent.

Current shortages in science and computing, and problems filling vacancies in rural areas, are a result of what Mr Swinney calls an “over-correction”.

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But ministers should not address one mistake by walking into another. The charity Teach First started in London in 2003, placing graduates in some of the country’s toughest schools to raise standards and aspirations. The aim is noble, but the methods controversial, with new starts getting just six weeks’ training.

In Scotland, would-be teachers undertake a year of university study before joining a school as a probationer in their second year. It is a test of commitment to the role.

Teach First has now submitted proposals for a new fast-teacher course to fill recruitment gaps here. Trainees could be let loose after five weeks’ training.

Besides questions of basic competence, it raises the prospect of a mishmash of pay scales and standards. In trying to be seen doing something, the government again risks doing the wrong thing.