The annual analysis of what is happening to Scotland's newly-qualified teachers following their probation year should be taken as a positive sign. This may seem perverse to those thousands of teachers who are without permanent jobs; the survey carried out by The TESS this week (p1, 4-5), indicates that two-thirds are in this position.
But one key point to remember is that, before the teacher induction scheme was introduced guaranteeing students a year's training, nobody cared about their pro-bationary fate whether they existed endlessly on supply contracts, if they took a decade to complete their probation or how many schools they had to endure while serving their time. At least, their concerns are now at the top of the educational agenda.
Of course, it is no comfort to enthusiastic new teachers to harp back to the past but it is of importance to place a superior system in the context of its discredited predecessor. We recognise, too, that merely to make that contrast is not to gloss over some of the current glitches and anomalies. Why is Clackmannanshire able to take on 82 per cent of probationers in permanent posts, while East Renfrewshire can manage only 18 per cent? Our investigations have also revealed wide disparities in funding: tiny East Renfrewshire gets pound;1 million for fully-funded probationer places, while mighty Aberdeenshire receives a mere pound;400,000.
Expectations among probationers of finding full-time work have been raised considerably: a job is seen as a right, rather than a matter of luck. This imposes a duty on the authorities to balance the numbers on teacher training and in probation with the available funding. On the other hand, while the way posts are allocated also needs scrutiny, probationers should look with favour on all parts of the country whether it be the Northern Isles or Newton Mearns.