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Left high and dry by the system

As a Stirling University graduate I had a suspicion that its students would be conveniently forgotten about in all the confusion over the new probationary arrangements (TESS, last week). There have been enough problems trying to get the scheme up and running for the August probationers, so why worry about those few who choose to take strange, unorthodox courses.

The supply work they have been promised as available in January may well be non-existent. There are many probationers from the old system still out there without permanent positions.

These and numerous women returners have been in temporary and long-term supply contracts which are being made into training positions. In the supply pecking order these will be first as they not only have knowledge and experience of the schools, but most heads are furious at having to let them go.

This leaves casual supply, frequently not in one's own subject unless one is prepared to travel all over Scotland at short notice. Once again, the above dispossessed teachers will come first, for the same reasons. There is also plenty of competition from retired teachers who retain links with their old schools and women returners who find casual supply convenient to work around a family.

Assuming there is still some supply left for those entering the jobs market in January, there is an additional problem. Unless one is covering a vacant post, maternity leave or long-term sickness, the work stops not in July, but at the beginning of May with the start of the exams. In many authorities schools have no casual supply budget at this time as it is considered that there will be plenty of extra staff hours to cover any shortages.

The GTC has "generously" agreed that those still struggling to finish their probation only need 18 months instead of two years, but what use is this when there are few jobs which have not become training positions and there will be stiff competition in a year's time from all those extra fully qualified teachers.

Linda Temple Nelson Street, Rosyth

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