New teachers 'in limbo'

11th December 2009 at 00:00
Education Secretary called on to take action so post-probationers don't desert profession

The number of unemployed post-probationers has soared five-fold since 2005.

The latest figures, published today by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, also reveal that the number finding permanent jobs has plummeted to one in five.

GTCS chief executive Tony Finn has called on Education Secretary Michael Russell to take prompt action to ensure new teachers do not desert the profession - and received an encouraging response.

The council's survey shows that unemployment among teachers in the session after their induction year rose to 27.5 per cent this year, from 5.3 per cent in 2005. Only 20.2 per cent of those surveyed had a full-time permanent contract by October - down from 63.3 per cent at the same time in 2005, and from 30.6 per cent last year. Even including part-time permanent work, the figure drops from 66 per cent to 23.4 per cent since 2005.

The proportion on temporary contracts (full-time and part-time) and in supply work, or who merely appear on supply lists, has surged upward. Nearly half of post-probationers come into these categories (49.1 per cent), up from 28.7 per cent in 2005.

The GTCS is "concerned" that the number of new teachers in jobs has been dropping year after year, according to Mr Finn.

"We have a new Cabinet Secretary for Education who will no doubt wish to take steps to ensure that new teachers are not lost to the profession," he said. "The GTCS is committed to offering him, and the local authorities, our full support in finding an effective and timely resolution to this problem."

The "highly-skilled and enthusiastic" teachers who graduated from Scotland's "world-renowned" induction scheme had much to contribute to the new curriculum.

The Education Secretary said: "These figures are unacceptable. Part of the cause is the recession. We all know that. But at any time, enthusiastic new teachers are an asset to the education system and need to be working in it, not left in limbo."

Mr Russell stressed that the Government had already reduced intake numbers into teacher education and announced an early retiral scheme, but added that he wanted to do more and was in "detailed discussions" with councils. "I am approaching these talks with an open mind and believe we can jointly find a better way forward," he said.

Some 1,456 teachers returned questionnaires out of a possible 3,011, or 48.4 per cent, a response rate similar to previous years'.

The GTCS figures back up trends identified in the annual TESS probationer survey. After contacting all 32 local authorities in mid-August, it showed that only 15 per cent of 2008-09 probationers had found permanent work.

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