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Funding fears for induction scheme

Giving previously ring-fenced money to local authorities could also impact on employment prospects for probationers, says GTC Scotland's convener

Scotland's world-class teacher induction scheme is under threat from the new funding relationship between local authorities and the Scottish Government, according to the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

The GTCS also expressed concern at its latest meeting that the current cohort of probationers would struggle to find employment.

Continuing professional development may be inadequately funded too, now that ring-fencing has been removed and local authorities are free to decide how to spend cash from the Scottish Government, warned May Ferries, the council's convener.

In the last full financial year - 2006-07 - pound;13.5 million was allocated by central government to local authorities for teachers' CPD. Over the same period, the teachers' induction scheme was funded with pound;42.5 million.

That money was no longer protected, Ms Ferries told council members. "The new concordat may undermine the funding of the current model," she said.

John Gunstone, a Scottish Government appointee to the GTCS representing the Government's schools division, confirmed that local authorities now controlled the money previously ring-fenced for the teacher induction scheme and CPD. This was something for which local authorities had campaigned "for a long, long time", but about which people at departmental level in councils were "hugely concerned", he said.

Ms Ferries also speculated that local authorities might begin rejecting the Scottish Qualification for Headship in favour of the alternative route "because it's cheaper".

She said that, while the figures this year for probationers finding work were worse than last year (just half had found permanent jobs by October - a drop of 5.3 per cent on the previous year), it was the employment prospects next year that really troubled her. Again, her worries stemmed from the concordat.

"Employment of the current cohort of probationers is a matter of concern. It's appropriate that the council keeps a sharp watching brief on this whole area," she said.

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities criticised "scaremongering" that suggested the removal of ring-fencing would mean the removal of funding.

Ms Ferries was implying that funding would be better had it remained under central government control, he said.

Cosla had campaigned long and hard for the removal of a "grossly inefficient" funding system of ring-fencing that meant some 60 different funds were handed out separately, all of them requiring detailed reporting to the Government and none of which could be combined with other funds to provide a more effective service.

"The GTCS should be welcoming this as a good thing because money is not being wasted on needless reporting," he said.

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