Ministers often complain, sometimes rightly, that they are misrepresented by the media. But it can sometimes work in reverse. The mischievous comments by Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, which are being widely quoted and which suggest that our survey on probationers was "out of date the day it was published", are a case in point.
She based her comments on the fact that our August 22 issue carried 300 job vacancies. In fact, of the 312 posts advertised, over a third were for heads, deputes and principal teachers. We were not aware it was Government policy to encourage probationers to apply for promoted posts. Furthermore, some other vacancies, such as those for a road safety education officer or a development officer in enterprise education, could not possibly be filled by probationers.
Ms Hyslop also suggested that a survey carried out by the General Teaching Council for Scotland was more "robust" than ours, since it revealed that 93 per cent of last year's probationers were in jobs. While we bow to no one in our admiration for the robustness of the GTCS, it issued a health warning pointing out that the response from probationers was only 33 per cent - 1,131 out of a possible 3,388. So the "robust" survey turns out to reveal that 93 per cent of 33 per cent had found jobs - not all of which were permanent.
We do not support the fatuous notion that all probationers should be able to walk into jobs at the beginning of the new session, leaving nobody available to fill vacancies as they occur in the year, as Ms Hyslop and Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, have suggested. Based on figures from all 32 education authorities, we simply reported our findings that only 22 per cent of last year's probationers have found permanent teaching jobs in Scotland. These findings may be unpalatable, but ministers should not seek to rubbish them by attempting to shoot the messenger.