Editorial - Let's hope Russell keeps promise of jobs for all
This week we have our first interview with Michael Russell since he was re-appointed Education Secretary, and he's as confident as ever that he can deliver on his promises (p6). His main pledge - and he is emphatic - is that there will be enough jobs for all teachers next year, not just post-probationers.
Quite how these jobs will materialise, or how many, remains to be seen, but pound;15.3 million was added to the pay and conditions pot in negotiations over the revised teachers' agreement, and an earlier pound;15m was targeted specifically at job creation.
South Ayrshire has announced this week that it is recruiting eight additional teachers as a "direct result of pound;337,000 from the Scottish Government" (part of the pound;15m), and it will not be alone. So our advice to job-seekers is to keep a keen eye on our classified pages, as any posts are likely to be advertised there - 152 last week, 158 the week before and 279 the week before that.
It must be music to the ears of this year's probationers, who graduated at the General Teaching Council for Scotland on Tuesday (p8). They are unlikely to land jobs immediately - one young candidate on our website claims to have applied for more than 30 jobs and received an automatic "thanks, but no thanks" response each time. But if Mr Russell is to be believed, even she could find one in the course of the year. This session's crop of new teachers won't be overly optimistic, knowing that only one in five of their predecessors secured a full-time job last year, but at least there is a glimmer of hope.
They will be relieved to have their induction year safely behind them, given this week's newspaper report that the General Teaching Council for Scotland would not accredit probationers who are given inadequate time by their local authorities to reflect on their teaching practice. It's a scary prospect for new probationers, but the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers has written to the authorities asking them to adopt a flexible approach to help probationers in light of the GTCS's concerns.
One thing is certain - any new teachers who do land jobs will work in a very different environment from previous generations. With Curriculum for Excellence inspiring fresh thinking, creative cross-curricular work, new approaches to timetabling and collaborative teaching (p18) - and authorities such as Dumfries and Galloway coming up with radical models for S4-6 secondaries (see opposite), schools and authorities will vary far more than before. New teachers will need to be pro-active and flexible wherever they work. Only last week, Keir Bloomer described in our Comment pages his "blue skies" vision of how schools could re-organise their senior classes and work with other schools and colleges. This week, there is evidence it could already be happening.