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Budgets bite on training scheme

Extensions, critical to the induction system, could fall victim to the credit crunch

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Teaching's regulatory watchdog has accused councils of "undermining" Scotland's much-lauded teacher induction scheme.

Since the introduction of the concordat and the scrapping of ring-fenced local spending, the General Teaching Council for Scotland claims local authorities have been failing to fund adequately extensions for probationers struggling to make the grade after a year in the classroom. And the current economic climate, they fear, will exacerbate the situation.

Extensions, the GTCS argues, are a critical part of the teacher induction scheme, since the probationary period was reduced from two years to one.

The scheme, introduced in August 2002, allows all probationer teachers to be considered for full registration within one school year. It guarantees a full year of training, rather than leaving probationers to the vagaries of supply work.

The provision of extensions was, therefore, a "big issue", said GTCS convener May Ferries, because they were a lifeline for probationers who had not reached the standard in a year, but were considered to have the potential to do so. "There are a tiny proportion of probationers in this category, but they deserve their extension to be properly funded. This is a real threat to the induction system," she said.

Extensions usually last for 12 weeks and should begin shortly after the end of the induction year.

Kay Barnett, convener of the GTCS professional standards committee, which makes decisions about whether probationers have reached the standard for full registration, said: "Our concerns over extensions to the teacher induction scheme are continuing to grow. The teacher induction scheme could be undermined if this issue is not addressed."

A teacher induction scheme review group had been set up to look at all aspects of its operation but, Mrs Barnett complained, "key opinion-makers" such as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland failed to attend its first meeting, held at the beginning of the year.

A member of council said ADES had not deliberately failed to attend but had got the dates confused.

The GTCS also heard that a shortage of jobs could be deterring teachers in other countries from applying to work in Scotland.

The number of teachers from abroad seeking work in Scotland dropped by a third last year, the council's exceptional admission to the register committee reported.

It suggested that prospective applicants, most of whom come from England, were being put off by media coverage of the shortage of jobs in Scotland; the economic situation which made people less inclined to relocate; stricter controls on entry visas; and the 60-day probationary period.

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