Editor's comment

21st August 2009 at 01:00

The shocking figures on probationer employment, revealed in this week's TESS, should be a wake-up call for professionals and politicians alike. The downward trend has been evident for some time, but the triple- whammy of the credit crunch, the consequent squeeze on council budgets and the removal of ring-fenced protection around those budgets is making a bad situation immeasurably worse.

It is not just the reality that fewer teachers than ever are getting permanent posts, it is the scale of the problem which is so stark. The fact that the largest council in Scotland has not yet been able to find a single permanent post, or even supply work, for a post-probationer is indeed alarming.

Now, of course, the Government will seek comfort in the arguments that more new teachers will get jobs as the session moves on and that, indeed, it would be undesirable for everyone to be employed immediately since it would leave schools struggling to fill vacancies as they arise. Both of these assertions are undoubtedly true, but the fact remains that we have moved from one in three probationers getting permanent jobs in 2007 to one in seven now.

We are also told that concentrating on permanent jobs is a mistake, because different kinds of posts are required. Nonetheless, we have reached the situation where as many probationers are on supply lists as have found permanent posts. And the relevant word there is "lists": the supply figures reflect those available for work, not necessarily in work. It would be the ultimate irony if the induction scheme, partly introduced to guarantee probationers a training year, simply ended up postponing the supply merry-go-round by a year.

It seems the best hope is that the old will retire to make way for the young, and that the credit crunch will end soon. Meantime, the current group of newly-qualified teachers will feel seriously short-changed.

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