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Temporary teachers have rights

The impact of placing new probationers is, for Barbara Clark, assistant general secretary of the SSTA, just the latest consequence of the widespread practice of keeping teachers on temporary contract for year after year, a situation she describes as "utter exploitation".

Large numbers of these so-called temporary posts - and we're talking about thousands of them across the country - are not temporary at all. If someone has been in the same school for three years on temporary contract, that is not a temporary post. It's a permanent post which is being treated as temporary for the authority's convenience.

"These teachers actually have the same sort of employment rights as permanent teachers, but they tend to be more reluctant to make a fuss precisely because they are on temporary contract.

"Under the Employment Rights Act, anyone employed for one year of continuous service, full or part-time, acquires rights against unfair dismissal or unfair selection for redundancy. So, local authorities now offer further employment to a temporary teacher whose particular post is no longer required.

"None of the authorities has broken ranks and just sacked folk, and I'm very hopeful that will continue. The next step, though, has to be to abolish altogether the injustice and insecurity that results from treating as temporary all these teachers who have years of well attested service."

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