Nicolas Barnard reports.
SCHOOLS are failing to deliver the Government's induction year for new teachers, leaving some with full timetables and others with no training at all.
Hundreds of teachers are forced to begin their careers with supply shifts, risking the loss of their teaching qualification because they cannot find a school to enrol them on an induction programme by September 2000.
The induction year was introduced this term to give extra support and training to newly-qualified teachers. They should be released from teaching for at least one half-day a week, have an agreed action plan, and be regularly observed at work.
But the system has already been beset by a row over funding. Now a survey of 43 new teachers on an induction course at London University's Institute of Education offers a snapshot of the problems. It found 24 did not have a reduced timetable. Halfway through the first term, one in five had not had a single half-hour meeting with their induction tutor, and only half had discussed their career-entry profile - something that should have been done at the start of the year.
One in three had not yet been observed teaching, and the same number had not yet watched another teacher in action. The good news was that 86 per cent said they liked or loved their job. The teachers came from primary schools in nine inner and outer-London boroughs.
Course tutor Sara Bubb, who carried out the survey, said the true picture could be even worse as the teachers all came from schools committed enough to send them on the course. New teachers considered the induction year a lifeline as they struggled to cope with the job. But the amount of support they got was "a lottery".
"What amazed me was how few teachers had seen the Department for Education and Employment and Teacher Training Agency documentation. They only vaguely knew about the half-day release and didn't really understand what they were entitled to."
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The funding is a complete and utter shambles. Many schools don't have anything like the money they need to provide all the resources and support which newly-qualified teachers undoubtedly require."
The TES last month revealed wide disparities in funding, allocated from the DFEE to local authorities through the Standards Fund last April - before most schools knew whether they would be taking on any NQTs. Some councils simply distributed the grant according to the size of school.
The DFEE has asked the Office for Standards in Education to conduct its own study. A spokesperson said local authorities had a duty by law and heads were bound by their contracts to provide induction for NQTs, but legal action was a last resort at this early stage.
SUPPLY TEACHERS face even more difficulties, according to Select, one of the biggest supply agencies, which this summer took 1,000
newly-qualified teachers onto its books - only a handful of whom are on induction programmes.
Schools are refusing to take NQTs on long-term contracts because they must now provide induction for any employed for a term or more - a cost they cannot afford, the agency reports.
But once teachers begin supply teaching, DFEE guidelines say they have only four terms to begin their induction year.
Loraine Desimone, head of the agency's Newcastle office, said: "Many of our NQTs are worried. If this isn't practicable, they say they'll be forced to leave teaching."
A DFEE spokesperson said officials were aware of the problem and planned to meet supply agencies to assess its extent and examine why some NQTs could not find jobs that included induction.