Job-hunting? A map can guide you to richer opportunities
What's in your job-hunting toolbox? Teaching qualification - check; Standard for Full Registration - check; evidence of good practice - check; practice interview - check; registered for job alerts - check; map - Hang on - a map? For job-hunting? Yes. Maps aren't just for geography teachers. They are a tool that all student teachers could use to make their full transition into the profession a little smoother.
Data specific to education graduates in Scotland is hard to find, but research shows that those who are geographically mobile are more successful in starting their careers. For example, the central belt boasts more schools than other regions, but population density is higher and half of Scotland's teacher training institutions are there. This means fierce competition for vacancies.
A prolonged job search can be frustrating and demoralising. Speaking to one graduate, I observed that suitable vacancies were being advertised in Aberdeen as well as other regions. Absolutely not, came the response. Family commitments, other limiting factors?, I gently probed. No, I've heard Aberdeen is a horrible city .
How many places have you crossed off your list because of what you've heard, rather than know? Having arrived in the UK from the US 15 years ago, I am familiar with the role of geographic mobility in my own career - and with making both the decision to move and not to move.
My aim is not to advocate moving to a particular region, but to encourage new teachers to consider how moving could benefit them, especially if staying put doesn't seem to be converting job applications into job offers. For some, mobility simply isn't an option for many reasons. If moving is a realistic option for you, there are benefits.
In the old days, craftsmen became wandering journeymen after their apprenticeship. Educated in their craft, but not yet a master, they went from place to place, honing their craft with experienced masters. Mobility allows you to learn from several teaching masters, be exposed to new philosophies, experience diverse schools and communities. Working in unfamiliar places can increase your self-confidence, flexibility and tolerance.
Moving can benefit your personal development, too. Whether your interests are literary or culinary, music or mountains, a little research will show you what places really have to offer. And a move isn't necessarily for ever, but perhaps a stepping stone to other places.
Now, where did that map go?
Darcey Gillie is careers adviser for Moray House School of Education students at the University of Edinburgh.