Hang on to what you have

24th February 2006 at 00:00
There are plenty of teaching jobs around, if you are a secondary school teacher. However, woe betides the primary newly qualified teachers who want to move to a different part of the country.

During January 2006, we logged the details of some 2,000 adverts for secondary classroom posts. In addition, there were around 1,000 adverts for heads of department on the new teaching and learning responsibility scales.

Not all the teaching posts were suitable for newly qualified teachers looking for their second job, as they included posts as head of small subjects within departments as well as second in department posts in some larger departments such as English, mathematics, and science. However, that still left plenty of choice. There were, for instance, more than 250 posts for English teachers, and more than 360 for maths teachers, but only 94 posts for teachers of languages, and fewer than 50 history vacancies.

Surprisingly, there were as many as 30 vacancies for drama teachers. By contrast, there were only four vacancies to add to the nine posts advertised last term for those who have trained to teach citizenship. And five for teachers of classics.

If you are a primary teacher looking to move, knowledge of the market may be the key, since many posts don't make it into national publications.

Then there is the vexed question of the pool system. Is it discriminatory? Does it deprive you, as a serving teacher, of possible jobs to apply for this year? If the notices only appear in publications such as First Appointments and Target Teaching, and are sent to careers services, but not distributed where serving teachers can see them; if they also don't make it clear that serving teachers can also apply for consideration, then on the face of it there would seem to be discrimination.

Discrimination against older workers has been recognised. Ask what the teacher associations are doing about this, as it will only become more serious if the current downward pressure on jobs in the primary sector continues. There were 3,000 fewer full-time equivalent fully trained primary teachers in January 2005 than in 2002, and the number of those working full-time was 10,000 less than in 1997. Despite this reduction there are more newly qualified teachers being trained than in the 1990s. If you have a teaching job, the best advice might be to hang on to it if at all possible.

John Howson

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