Job hot spots

23rd January 2009 at 00:00
Times are getting tougher and money is getting tighter. But John Howson says there are still jobs out there - if you know where to look

Spring term marks the start of the job hunting season for trainee teachers gaining qualified teacher status this summer.

For the past three years, I have been monitoring registration trends for newly qualified teachers with the General Teaching Council in England. This has allowed me to produce maps of where the jobs might be.

Of course, this study doesn't differentiate between primary and secondary vacancies and doesn't include the private sector, although it does include academies. For trainees in the secondary sector, visit to register for more specific information about the pattern of jobs in particular subjects in the area where you are training.

Because of the prevalence of "pools" for recruitment in the primary sector, it is not possible to provide the same degree of detail for those looking for vacancies in that sector.

Before discussing the maps in depth, it is worth making some general points about recruitment. Possibly as many as 10,000 teachers will retire in the summer of 2009. This is a higher number than in recent years due to the so-called baby boomer generation reaching retirement age.

Many of these teachers will be in middle or senior management posts; although these posts won't interest you as new to the profession, the trickle down effect will result in vacancies you can apply for as a classroom teacher.

But, there are other factors at work. In parts of England, Wales and Scotland, school rolls are falling. This phenomenon has been seen in the primary sector for some years and has now started to impact upon some secondary schools, especially in the North.

This year, the picture will be further complicated by the problems in the wider economy. Schools in areas of rapid housing turnover may find a combination of falling prices and local unemployment means changes to the age distribution within catchment areas: there will be winners and losers.

It is too early to tell whether the wider economic slowdown will have other impacts upon the job market for teachers. But here are some trends we are looking out for - a reduction in vacancies due to teachers deferring retirement to help younger members of the family through the economic crisis and more Graduate Teacher Programme posts to reduce unemployment, even though it will impact on job availability for existing trainees.

But the big concern must be school budgets. Any serious impact on spending could increase class sizes and reduce job opportunities. These are all negative factors and, apart from new jobs created in academies, it is difficult to see where any growth in the number of jobs on offer might come from.

Nevertheless, it is easy to become too pessimistic. There will be jobs on offer and, if the Department for Children, Schools and Families got its calculations about trainee numbers right, the supply of new teachers should be met by an appropriate number of vacancies. But, they might not be where you want them or in your ideal school.

So, what do these maps tell us? They are based upon the percentage of the teaching force in each local authority last year who were new teachers. Eighteen of the 20 authorities with the highest percentages were in London; the other two were Luton in Bedfordshire and Sandwell in the West Midlands. Among the authorities with the lowest percentages, seven were in the North East. The London authorities in the top 20 employed around 2,000 new teachers, whereas the North East authorities in the lowest decile employed fewer than 500 NQTs. Although not employing the greatest percentages of new teachers, some six authorities between them employed more than 3,000 NQTs. (Birmingham, 564; Surrey, 462; Hampshire, 544; Hertfordshire, 504; Kent, 593 and Essex, 557).

So, London and the surrounding counties seem to offer the best opportunities for NQTs, but these are often high-cost areas where the lure of the big city may not always be offset by the higher salary on offer, although some schools do add a recruitment allowance to soften the initial shocks of city living.

Others may appoint NQTs with an employment record before training as a teacher above the first point on the scale; it is always worth asking about this possibility when offered a job anywhere.

In areas where jobs are harder to find, you may have to start searching earlier and you cannot afford any slip-ups with your application forms. Hopefully, there will also be fewer applicants for schools to pick from.

This graph (above) may be especially useful if you are thinking of working in a different area from where you trained. You may also want to ask about the strength of induction programmes in small authorities who employ few NQTs.

Will you be the only PE NQT in the authority or perhaps be offered a job in a primary school that hasn't had an NQT since the rules about teaching time were last revised?

For teachers looking for teaching vacancies in the secondary sector, the TES, both online and in the print edition, is really the only place to look for vacancies. For those in the primary sector, once local authority "pools" have closed, the TES also provides a key platform for schools still looking for teachers.

As your career progresses, the TES will become even more vital, carrying details of virtually all middle and senior leadership vacancies.

John Howson of Education Data Surveys at TSL Education Ltd.

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