Jobs rule 'shackles' heads

19th June 1998 at 01:00
A heads' leader has attacked the ban onfailing schools takingon teachers in theirinduction year. Frances Rafferty reports

THE NEW rule barring newly qualified teachers from working in failing schools will severely hamper heads from recruiting new staff as part of their strategy to turn them round, according to a union leader.

Last week the Government announced that teachers starting their induction year will not be taken on in schools under special measures. But David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this would further shackle heads who were already struggling in failing schools.

"This gives me cause for great concern," he said. "How can the Government expect heads to go into failing schools and try to turn them around, but prevent them from recruiting bright, young graduates?

"It is a nonsense if a school needs a bright maths teacher who wants to join a school in special measures, but is unable to take them on because it is their induction year."

Mr Hart said heads should be able to decide if they can support and assist new graduate teachers.

Stephen Byers, the school standards minister, told the House of Commons that the induction year, unlike the probationary year in the old system, will be properly funded and effective. He said: "We take the view that, during the induction period, the individual teacher needs support and assistance, which should primarily come from the school.

"The prime responsibility of a school that has been found to be failing and is under special measures - there are nearly 500 such schools - must be to turn itself around and restore itself to good health so that it can offer the standards we all want.

"In these circumstances, we believe the school will not be able to give the necessary support and assistance to a student undergoing the induction year and that such schools should be precluded from offering an induction period."

John Howson, an education analyst specialising in teacher recruitment, said this would make it even harder for such schools to find staff. "In some cases, these schools are losing money because pupils are leaving or parents are sending their children elsewhere. Newly qualified teachers are the cheapest and could be the only ones they can afford," he said.

"The induction year may also cause problems for supply agencies, particularly those using overseas teachers."

A government source said: "All teachers working in maintained schools will have to complete an induction year to qualify for the General Teaching Council's register of the profession."

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