It's tough, but don't lose heart - we need you

30th August 2013 at 01:00

Times have changed over the seven years that TESS has conducted a survey of post-probationer employment. Each August we track the number of teachers in permanent jobs after their induction year; the high-water mark remains that recorded in the first survey in 2007.

That year it was just under a third, which at the time prompted indignation and dismay. Union officials hoped it was a mere blip. Instead, the situation got much worse, reaching a nadir in 2010 when only 12 per cent of post-probationers had permanent posts.

Now the figure is climbing back up - but perceptions have changed. Whereas 32 per cent seemed shocking in 2007, 28 per cent in 2013 feels like a success story of sorts.

Outrage has dissipated, while a shoulder-shrugging pragmatism has emerged among newly qualified teachers. One told TESS that he went into teaching with his eyes open, aware that he may have to scrabble around for work from year to year.

Let's just hope that local authorities aren't taking advantage of lower expectations. Many teachers are on temporary contracts, doing all that someone in a permanent post would - but without the same conditions and job security.

Of course, the picture varies across the country. In June, learning minister Alasdair Allan told probationers to "broaden your horizons" when looking for work, and said that every year the Scottish government heard from local authorities with teaching jobs going begging. A month later, TESS reported on Aberdeen City Council offering teachers #163;5,000 bonuses to relocate, and Aberdeenshire coaxing teachers over from Canada and Ireland to plug a shortfall ("Council looks abroad to solve teacher recruitment crisis", 26 July).

Not everyone can relocate, but anyone not bound by family or other ties should give it consideration. Our coverage of the jobs situation includes a case study of a young woman from East Lothian, who had a fabulous time in Orkney as a probationer and will be staying on this year (see pages 16-18).

This can be a particularly tough time for newly qualified teachers. The idealism that propelled them into the profession may be giving way to anxiety over where the next little chunk of poorly remunerated supply work will come from.

But they should not lose heart: teaching needs them. As Scottish education negotiates the choppy waters of new qualifications, curricular reform and shrivelling council budgets, it will increasingly rely on new recruits brimming with ideas and steeped in Curriculum for Excellence.

Parents around the country can rest assured that, as thousands of children start what may be a 13-year journey, they will be guided by one of the best teaching workforces in the world. Job prospects may fluctuate but teaching never changes - it's still one of the most important and fulfilling jobs you can do.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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