Further doubts on future job prospects for new teachers have arisen after a TESS investigation revealed that a third of the 25,000 teachers the Government expects to leave in the next four years are not retiring but leaving because their temporary work has dried up.
The general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland has called for "further investigation" after the Government admitted that 2,000 of the estimated 6,000 teachers it expects to leave each year will do so after completing short-term contracts. They would not, therefore, create vacancies to be filled by newly-qualified teachers.
Ronnie Smith said he found the 2,000 figure - representing four out of every 100 teachers in Scotland - "surprisingly high". He feared that these teachers were leaving because their short-term contracts had not led to more permanent jobs.
The prospect of 25,000 teachers leaving by 2013 (nearly half of the 53,000 workforce) has been hailed by the Scottish Government as justification for its target of training 20,000 teachers over that period.
Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, who has come under fire because hundreds of newly-qualified teachers have been unable to find jobs this session, told the last meeting of the Scottish Parliament's education committee before Christmas: "Two years ago, it was modelled that 5,799 teachers, which is a fairly substantial number, would leave teaching between 2006 and 2007.
"We are therefore looking at a figure of about 6,000 retirals a year, which means that half of all teachers will leave the profession during the four years of this parliamentary session and that we will have to replace them. That is why we said that we need to have 20,000 teachers in training just to stand still."
In November of last year, The TESS established from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency that 4,000 teachers would retire this year, either because they have reached retirement age or been allowed to retire prematurely.
The other teachers making up Ms Hyslop's projected 6,000 departures are the 2,000 leaving after short-term contracts, those who "dip in and out of jobs", induction scheme probationers who will not immediately get jobs and teachers on maternity leave, said a Scottish Government spokeswoman.
Mr Smith said: "Presumably a fair proportion of them are still in the market for jobs when they come up. The issue could become one not just of no jobs for newly-qualified teachers (of whom we hear so much), but also for the not insignificant numbers of recently-qualified teachers."