Editor's comment

31st October 2008 at 00:00

The Teacher Employment Working Group recommends that probationers be given a better understanding of the induction system to ensure there is "no unrealistic expectation of immediate local permanent employment". In other words, new teachers, don't bank on a job at the end of your training.

In the current febrile economic climate, everyone knows there's no such thing as a guarantee. Yet does Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, not have a point when he argues that there is a moral contract between the Government and the people whom they enticed into teaching? Admittedly, it was a different administration that ran the teacher recruitment campaigns in a bid to meet its target of 53,000 teachers. It had no way of knowing that the current Government would reach a new funding agreement with authorities, allowing them a freedom which many believe has allowed councils to cut staffing formulae to undesirably low levels. Therein lies the rub - workforce planning is not an exact science and cannot take account of unforeseeable changes of circumstance, such as global banking crises, which may encourage some teachers to delay their retirement.

The working group has made suggestions for making this inexact science a bit more exact - the key one being a better reconciliation of local and national workforce planning. The report acknowledges that the August 2008 unemployment figures showed a larger than normal seasonal increase. The TESS shows today (page 1) that the September figures for claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance have leapt by more than 50 per cent since the same time last year. None of the recommendations by the Teacher Employment Working Group is likely to alleviate the circumstances of unemployed teachers in the immediate future. But the failed attempt by teacher organisations to introduce a national minimum staffing standard might have done.

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