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Peacock has his feathers ruffled on probationers

ABERDEEN students have rapidly deflated the puff of the Scottish Executive over placements for next session's probationer teachers.

Mature students with family and homes in the city will be forced to travel as far as Dumfries and Galloway and Shetland if they want to pursue their one-year induction course. Two have been offered posts in Edinburgh.

Writing in today's TES Scotland, a student spokesman protests that only seven of 13 students on the postgraduate course have been given their first or second preferences. Others are down to their third, fourth or fifth choice of local authority.

This is far removed from the spin last week of Peter Peacock, Education Minister, who announced that 89 per cent of prospective secondary teachers have found a post in one of their first three choices.

"We have once again succeeded in allocating everyone who applied to join the teacher induction scheme in August 2003 to one of his or her five preferred authorities, even though the scheme offers no such guarantee," Mr Peacock said.

However, Aberdeen students claim that in reality they have little choice.

"If a line is drawn from Dundee to Oban, there are only seven mainland authorities to choose from, compared to 23 to the south, 18 of which are within commuting distance of Edinburgh or Glasgow," the spokesman says.

The fourth and fifth choices are invalid in the north of Scotland. "If one lives in Aberdeen, only three authorities lie within commuting distance."

The city is said to have only one position fully funded by the Scottish Executive while Aberdeenshire has four. Angus is said to have no provision for geography probationers. "It is not the scheme that is being criticised, but its administration," the students assert.

Opinion, page 26 Probationer report, ScotlandPlus, pages 2-3

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