Editor's comment

29th August 2008 at 01:00

We make no apology for returning to the subject of probationers. Having warned two weeks ago about the dangers of "training teachers for unemployment", we did not expect to be in a position of "we told you so" as early as this week. But our annual survey of the probationers' jobs market paints a dispiriting picture and shows that we may indeed be heading for a crisis.

A position in which only 22 per cent of last year's probationers have found permanent jobs is untenable. The inclusion of those on temporary or supply contracts tells a scarcely more encouraging story, and means that more than half of last year's probationers have failed to get a teaching job of any kind in Scotland. Even allowing for the fact that a surplus of teachers is necessary to cope with the peak periods when supply teachers are needed, we are in danger of recreating the merry-go-round of endless supply work which the much-lauded teacher induction scheme was intended to make a thing of the past.

This is not just an employment - or unemployment - story. There are two sound educational reasons for alarm. First, our survey shows clearly that probationers face a postcode lottery - no permanent posts in Renfrewshire, over half of last year's West Lothian crop with jobs. Second, we run the serious risk of putting off people who are keen to enter the profession if they believe there are no jobs.

It is time now for central and local government to get round the table to thrash out a better way ahead. The SNP Government has yielded up the levers of influence through its concordat with councils. The Education Secretary may point to her workforce planning inquiry, but what's the point of that if authorities then "move the goalposts"?

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