Job shortage leads to more assistants

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Newly qualified primary teachers who are unable to find work are taking up jobs as teaching assistants in order to stay in school.

Those who have spent the last year unsuccessfully applying for jobs in primary schools believe that this may be the only way of continuing to work with children and practise their classroom skills, according to teachers posting on The TES online staffroom.

One contributor said: "Taking up a teaching assistant job could be an option to gain more experience and remain in the learning environment, while I'm unsuccessful getting a teaching post."

Another said that she had found the temporary change of career offered a number of benefits: "I got a job as a learning support assistant for two children with special needs, which I have been doing since January.

"I found this useful, as it gave me lots of time to fill out application forms and do interviews. I've been able to observe different teachers teach. I now have a teaching job for September."

One contributor believes that it is also a useful way for new teachers to increase their confidence in the classroom. She said: "In my last school, there was a teaching assistant who had just got a PGCE, but wasn't confident to take a class. At the end of the year, a vacancy came up and she got it."

Since the start of the year, fewer than 1,000 primary teaching jobs have been advertised nationally; the number of jobs appearing in The TES has decreased by 2 per cent, compared with the same period last year.

At Leven Church of England primary in East Riding, Yorkshire, more than 100 applications were received when a Year 1 teaching post was advertised. This is double the number received when a similar job was advertised at the 200-pupil primary last year.

John Howson of Education Data Surveys says that the increased competition for primary jobs will force more NQTs to look for non-teaching work. There is no data available yet to illustrate the trend, but he says it is significant.

"There was clearly an over-supply of primary teachers last year, and there will be one this year. If NQTs want to keep in touch with teaching and develop their skills, some have no choice but to take a job as a TA. But they won't get an induction year from the job," he says.

Ultimately, he says, this may lead to a drop in the number of NQTs entering the profession. "People will begin to think, I want to be a primary teacher, but the risk of not getting a job is too great. So they will look elsewhere."

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