Editor's comment

20th August 2010 at 01:00

The fact that nine out of 10 newly-qualified teachers have not been able to find a permanent teaching job is a national failure (p1). It is also a national waste, of resources and of talent. This is the worst prospect for probationers since The TESS began its annual surveys in 2007, when 32 per cent were given permanent posts by education authorities (not itself a comforting figure). Even if those on temporary contracts are factored in, that still leaves three-quarters of last year's crop either without a teaching post or forced to rely on the vagaries of supply work.

There are plenty of extenuating circumstances which the Scottish Government can pray in aid, from the dastardly antics of the bankers to the follies of the Westminster Government. It is also true that more job opportunities will emerge in the course of the session, but not many. Ministers have taken some action by turning off the tap of graduates flowing from the teacher education institutions, and that will give probationers some hope.

Education authorities do also look outside their own areas to recruit probationers although, as our survey shows, that is a tiny number (with transfers across council boundaries made more difficult as vacancies are now routinely advertised in-house).

The fate of the most recent probationers is enough of a scandal in itself, but it obscures the plight of their "forgotten" predecessors who find themselves pushed aside in the scramble for jobs. The irony is that an introduction to a teaching career via endless stints on supply cover is precisely what our "world-class" teacher induction scheme was designed to bring to an end.

The message for the Government is an unpalatable one: if ministers want to improve probationer employment and infuse the profession with fresh blood, they will have to will the means. Bring back ring-fenced funding, do we hear someone cry?

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

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