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Probationers fear 'lost year'

Worried probationer teachers claimed this week that they could be at a disadvantage when new induction arrangements come into force in the wake of the teachers' settlement.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland, however, says it has already made special arrangements so that beginners embarking on the traditional two-year probationary period in August do not lose out during the transition to the new one-year scheme, which starts in August 2002.

The former group of around 2,000 teachers will be eligible for full registration with the GTC in 2003 if they complete their probation successfully. At the same time, those who finish their one year of probation after graduating next year will also be in the market for permanent posts; unlike the others, they are guaranteed a training contract with mentoring arrangements.

The class of 2001-03, in the form of 60 Moray House students who have just completed their secondary postgraduate course, has now raised its concerns with Jack McConnell, the Education Minister. They state: "We will be competing with next year's students and be at a distinct disadvantage, as the probationers will have funding available to be given to schools to help pay towards the cost of employing them."

The letter concludes: "If the situation exists from August 2001 with the new intake of students, then we are at very real risk of becoming a lost year of teachers, people who cannot get jobs through no fault of their own."

But Matthew MacIver, chief executive and registrar of the GTC, said the council has already made special arrangements for the final group of two-year probationers because it knew there would be an issue.

"I would like to reassure students finishing this year that they have been a priority with the GTC over the past few months to try to ensure they come through this transitional period," he said.

The council is prepared to fast-track applications for full registration from teachers graduating this summer who have completed at least one year and a term of probation by the end of March 2003, although there will also be additional quality checks on their classroom performance.

The GTC has undertaken to process these applications by the end of May 2003. This will allow earlier access to permanent jobs since they would not normally be eligible for full registration until the end of June. The GTC is to write to all the 2,000 students affected outlining these procedures for priority registration.

Mr MacIver said he hoped in any case that no one would lose out in the race for jobs as more posts are being created following the post-McCrone agreement.

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