Give all trainees a job

12th August 2005 at 01:00
Union wants UK to follow Scotland's lead on NQTs to prevent waste of new talent. Jon Slater reports

Britain's second-largest teaching union this week called for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland's lead and guarantee all newly-qualified teachers a job for their induction year.

Such a move has already been endorsed by teacher and headteacher unions in Wales and the General Teaching Council for Wales, and is under consideration by an Assembly government-funded review of teacher training, led by Professor John Furlong of Oxford university. The review is due to report next month.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "It is a tragedy and a gross waste of public money when newly-qualified teachers leave training and are unable to find a post.

"Demoralisation and disillusionment set in rapidly when it becomes evident to them that they will either have to abandon their chosen career before it has even started or take on supply work, which is a most unsatisfactory induction into teaching."

Louise Cleveley is living proof of the difficulties facing newly-qualified primary teachers in their search for a first job.

The 23-year-old is a member of England's fast-track training scheme, gained a postgraduate certificate in education from Durham university in July, and has seven years of school experience including 12 months as a teaching assistant.

Yet, despite 30 applications to schools in West Yorkshire and five interviews, she has yet to find a job.

She said: "I know I can teach, I'm just being prevented from doing so by vastly-inflated numbers of trainees. Each job I've applied for has received a minimum of 60 applications. It's an awful situation."

Ms Cleveley is not alone. A study by Buckingham university's centre for education and employment research found two-thirds of people who qualified as primary teachers in 2004 were without jobs in March the following year.

But while NQTs in England and Wales scramble about for primary jobs, those in Scotland have a rather more relaxing summer.

Instead of having to apply to scores of schools for a job, NQTs in Scotland are guaranteed a placement for their induction year. They simply fill in a form listing their five preferred local authorities and wait to be allocated a job in one of them. Efforts are made to meet their preferences.

This guarantee, which applies to teachers trained in Scotland or whose training was paid for by the Scottish executive, was introduced in 2001 as a result of the McCrone reforms. Now, with workforce reform under way in England and Wales, the NASUWT would like to see the benefit extended to the rest of the UK.

But this on its own may not be enough to solve the problems in England.

Professor John Howson, a recruitment analyst, estimates a 10 per cent cut in places for primary trainees is needed to prevent any growth in the mismatch between the number of NQTs and jobs.

Primary trainee places in Wales have already been cut 5 per cent from this September, with a similar cut expected in 2006. But despite the glut of NQTs, without jobs, applications to primary courses in Wales are up 20 per cent.

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