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Job watch

Last time the country went to the polls in a general election, there was a teacher shortage. This time, as the election war intensifies in many areas, the opposite seems to be the case.

Too many teachers are chasing too few jobs. Regular readers of this column, who have permanent contracts, can feel secure in the knowledge that their future in teaching is bright. Even though school rolls are falling, the huge numbers of teachers retiring in the next few years will ensure chances for potentially rapid promotion.

January saw a record number of headteacher posts advertised; some 20 per cent up on the numbers two years ago. In time, these vacancies will create jobs for teachers at classroom level, as they are filled by junior staff being promoted. This is one advantage of working in a profession where most new entrants start with a training course rather than competing with established teachers for the posts on offer.

For NQTs on temporary contracts who will be competing on the open market with trainees emerging in even larger numbers than last year from PGCE and degree courses, the signs are not encouraging. There were 16 more primary posts advertised this January (183) than last year (167) in The TES; but didn't reach 200 jobs for the month in the whole of the country.

The avalanche of jobs that the introduction of the Workload Agreement might have been expected to bring hasn't happened. Planning, preparation and assessment time in primary schools may well be covered by staff other than teachers, and many teachers in secondary schools already benefit from non-contact ratios better than those specified in the agreement.

In the secondary sector, the number of vacancies advertised in January was similar to last year, but with increases in English and music.

Schools will be waiting to see the outcome of the pay settlement and the size of the budgets they receive from local authorities before they commit themselves to final staffing decisions. The launch of September budget starts rather than April may also have an effect on such decisions.

Start applying now for any job that seems suitable. A better one may be around the corner, but don't bank on it.

John Howson

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