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No room for optimism

I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that the number of newly-qualified teachers with full-time permanent contracts remains low, at just one in five, although there is a slight increase from last year, so hopefully the move is in the right direction ("Probationer job prospects look up", TESS, 9 December).

However, in terms of longer-term stability, permanence and working conditions, the picture is far from "looking up". It seems that the trend is for local authorities to employ staff on temporary contracts. Also, although the number employed as teachers outwith Scotland has fallen from last year, it remains higher than three to four years ago and is a loss to the profession here. In some cases this will be permanent.

The target on teacher numbers has been met - although only just ("Pay and conditions deal is safe for now", TESS 9 December). But it must be remembered that many of these teachers are part-time, have temporary contracts or are on supply.

While the average class size for Primary 1 has fallen marginally, it is disappointing that one of the key Government objectives of reducing all primary classes to 18 has been abandoned and many Primary 1 children are now taught in classes of 25 or more.

Maureen Laing, Voice: the union for education professionals, Edinburgh.

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