'Grotesque waste of talent'

29th August 2008 at 01:00
Three-quarters of Scotland's probationer teachers have been unable to find a permanent job

Fewer than one in four of last year's probationers have found permanent jobs, according to a survey carried out by The TESS.

Only 770 of the 3,426 probationers who were employed in the 32 education authorities last year have found permanent jobs. When new teachers employed on temporary or supply contracts are included, the figures show that only 45 per cent of last year's probationers have employment of any kind in Scotland.

Headteachers' leaders have called on the Scottish Government to fund more jobs and give class size reductions legislative backing.

This year's figures reveal a significant drop from those in a similar survey carried out last year by TES Scotland, which showed that 32 per cent of probationers had found permanent jobs at the start of term.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the statistics were "a pretty sorry indictment of local authorities", but added that the Scottish Government also had to tackle the issue. "This is not something it can regard as being at arms' length and say: `This is not our problem.'"

Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, found solace in the surveys carried out last year by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, which showed that, by June, 92 per cent of newly-qualified teachers were employed in teaching. She predicted that around 6,000 teachers would retire or leave the profession this year - almost 400 more than last year - and similar figures were expected in the years ahead.

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, said the most remarkable fact about probationer employment was the divergence across the country: "We are getting stories of hundreds of individuals applying for one job in some parts of Scotland, while other authorities can't fill vacancies."

The key factors for new teachers looking for jobs, he said, appeared to be: "How far are you from central Scotland, and how geographically dispersed is the authority?"

Education directors worked on the basis that they needed 10 per cent over- complement to run all their supply and cover needs, said Mr Stodter. "You want some competition - you don't want a market where everybody gets a job easily. If folk were more willing to move, as they were in our day, they might have less of a problem," he added.

Rhona Brankin, Labour's spokeswoman on education, blamed "a grotesque waste of talent" on Government under-funding. If councils were not given sufficient funding, they could not reduce class sizes or employ the extra teachers who had been trained, she said.

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