Graeme Paton and Karen Thornton report
A third of students who trained as primary school teachers in England last year failed to find a job in the classroom, new figures reveal.
The record level of new teachers out of work was blamed this week on stretched primary school budgets, combined with an oversupply of trainees in parts of the country. In Wales, a group reviewing teacher training is due to report in the autumn, following concerns about the number of newly-qualified teachers who have been unable to find jobs in schools.
The Assembly government has already announced that NQTs will be given up to five years (previously four terms) to find a teaching post suitable for completing induction.
And it is considering introducing a Scottish-style guarantee of a one-year induction post for NQTs.
The latest statistics show that, as of January, the unemployment rate for those completing postgraduate teacher-training courses in Wales last year (20034) was 4 per cent, compared to 1 per cent previously. Unemployment rates were also slightly higher for those who had completed three or four-year degree courses (5 per cent).
However, more of the 20034 postgraduate certificate in education qualifiers were in teaching jobs (84 per cent) than in the previous year (78 per cent). The same proportion of BEd qualifiers were teaching (74 per cent) but more were seeking teaching jobs (20 per cent) than in the previous year (12 per cent).
In England, 15,101 students trained to be primary teachers in 2004, a recent high, and 3,500 more than in 2000. It was anticipated that the extra staff would be needed to offset increasing retirement rates and to implement the workforce agreement's guarantee of a half-day a week outside the classroom to mark work.
But an analysis by the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham university shows only 67 per cent of trainees were recorded as being in the classroom by March 2005. Just two years ago it was three-quarters.
Although some trainees dropped out of courses, delayed entry to the profession or shunned the classroom altogether, the study reveals that thousands of new teachers were still actively looking for their first post nine months after qualifying.
Professor Alan Smithers, who compiled the report, said: "Because of falling birthrates, newly-qualified primary teachers are finding it difficult to find posts in some parts of the country, but it also underlines the failure of the government to properly fund workforce reform.
"The government is allowing schools to rely on teaching assistants to fulfil the agreement."