Editor's comment

11th December 2009 at 00:00

It can hardly have come as a surprise: far more new teachers are picking up dole cheques than at this time in 2005. Only about half of the most recent batch of post-probationers replied to the survey by GTC Scotland (p1), so we have no way of knowing if the disgruntled were more likely to respond than those ensconced in secure jobs. But five years of GTCS surveys - bolstered by three years of The TESS's more comprehensive post-probationer poll in August - clearly show the chances of permanent jobs are fading fast, while more and more new teachers have little idea what work they will get, if any, from one week to the next.

This depressing trend is a stark reminder of the huge undertaking faced by new Education Secretary Michael Russell. He already has a full in-tray for 2010, trying to fix the mess over class sizes and assuaging fears that Curriculum for Excellence is not all it is cracked up to be, without having to appease the growing ranks of graduates who feel they have been suckered into a career cul-de-sac.

He has made no attempt to spin away the problem, and declared himself open-minded to all potential solutions. Everyone knows the figures are "unacceptable", but to hear such unequivocal language from a minister will temper the gloom with a little hope (of course, he can afford to be relatively relaxed since he has inherited the situation for which he bears no more than the collective responsibility of Cabinet government).

Meanwhile, the GTCS has dismissed the controversial Teach First programme out of hand (p3). Perhaps Scotland's egalitarian tradition is not the best recruiting ground for a scheme decried for parachuting privileged graduates into difficult schools. But many sceptics have been won over in England, so the council's uncompromising tone is curious. The objection ought to be one of timing: what kind of message would it send to jobless teachers if a whole new stream of competitors were to enter the market?

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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