Hard times for new teachers

20th August 2010 at 01:00
TESS survey reveals only one in nine probationers has found a permanent post this session

Only 9 per cent of new teachers have found a permanent job in the authority which trained them - and fewer than 3 per cent have found one in another authority.

Figures revealed today by The TESS - the most comprehensive survey available, with information from all 32 local authorities - point to the worst jobs situation for new teachers since 2007, when this newspaper started its annual survey of probationer employment.

Four years ago, 942 out of 2,945 new teachers in 27 authorities found a permanent job immediately after their induction year - or 32 per cent. That figure has dropped in every year since: this year, 273 out of 3,119 probationers in 32 authorities have been given permanent jobs, a new low.

The Scottish Government has insisted that new teachers would continue to find work throughout the year. A spokesman said there were fewer probationers this year, which would help free up jobs for newly-qualified teachers.

However, past experience suggests that, though the number of teachers with jobs will rise, it will still account for a minority of new teachers. Our survey also reveals that very few probationers are being taken on by other authorities.

To underline the gloomy prospects, the most recent figure for primary and secondary teachers claiming unemployment benefit was at a six-year high for the month of July: 560 teachers last month compared with 535 at the same time last year, 125 in July 2007 and 205 in July 2005.

Unemployment figures for teachers are likely to rise even further in the next couple of months, if last year's trend is mirrored. Last July, teacher unemployment hit 535, according to the Office for National Statistics; by August, the figure had risen to 690.

But while the desperate job prospects of the latest batch of new teachers dominate the headlines, there is a growing clamour for the Government to do more on behalf of the "forgotten" cohorts of teachers who qualified over the past five years.

Their chances of finding a permanent job are said to dwindle the longer they spend in the "wilderness" of supply work.

This particular group of older probationers faces a "double whammy": headteachers are more likely to favour probationers who have just passed through their hands, while some authorities exclude previous probationers by advertising vacancies internally. Recent probationers therefore have an inbuilt advantage.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, described this process of managing applications as "unfair", although he understood why authorities might choose the most recent crop of probationers if they were swamped by applications.

Another senior figure suggested that confining job advertisements within an authority could be contrary to equal opportunities legislation.

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