New teachers must be prepared to up sticks to find employment

16th January 2009 at 00:00
Despite high projected retirement figures, falling pupil rolls mean NQTs will have to go where the work is. Meanwhile, moves in England towards making teaching a masters-level profession could also damage their prospects. Isabella Kaminski reports

Newly qualified teachers will have to become flexible - moving home if necessary - to find induction posts in Wales, according to a recruitment expert. And if they want a job in England, they might have to compete with teachers with masters degrees.

John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, owned by TSL Education, recently released figures showing that secondary vacancies have almost doubled in two years. There were 733 jobs up for grabs in 2007-08 compared with 382 in 2005-06.

But all was not as rosy as it appeared, he said, as the increases were down to better analysis of the jobs market. "The figure of 733 vacancies we found is probably more reflective of the real situation two years ago," he said.

Last year, 429 secondary NQTs were registered with the General Teaching Council for Wales.

Professor Howson said the job market was tough, but it varied according to region and specialism.

"There is a huge oversupply of teachers in the primary sector, but for secondary it's patchier," he said.

He predicts there will be fewer secondary vacancies in Wales in 2008-09. There could also be an above average number of retirements as those who started in the 1970s begin to bow out. But vacancies could still go down as pupil rolls fall.

To counter this trend, Professor Howson said teachers needed to be more mobile, applying for positions in other parts of the country.

"If you train people in Bangor in RE, they may not want to work in Newport, but that might be where the jobs are," he said.

There are also concerns that new teachers in Wales could be pushed out of the market by a lack of professional qualifications. Teaching graduates in England are now expected to complete a masters in teaching and learning during the first five years of their career.

The qualification focuses on educational theory and current research, as well as having a practical classroom element.

Last week, a UK government document suggested that teachers in England who did not study for a masters might damage their prospects.

Trinity College in Carmarthen is one Welsh institution that is developing a new masters that will focus on classroom practice.

Dr Dylan Jones, head of the college's school of teacher training, said Wales had to respond to what was happening in England.

"We don't want to follow for the sake of it, but we do need an urgent debate on this," he said. "Teachers are increasingly seen as researchers. It's very easy to get bogged down in what's going on in your classroom or school, but teachers are expected to constantly reflect on what and how they're teaching."

Phil Bassett, head of Glyndwr University's school of education, said Wales was considering higher qualifications, but not England's masters in teaching and learning.

He said Wales was taking a more "considered" view.

Hayden Llewellyn, deputy chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales, said there were already good arrangements for new teachers in Wales.

"As well as induction, they have two years of early professional development, which no longer exist in England."

An Assembly spokesman said it had no plans to introduce compulsory masters on initial teacher training courses. He said the chartered teaching scheme, currently being piloted, could lead to a masters.

"Should we decide to mainstream the programme we will look at how this would relate to the masters in teaching and learning in England."

But new teachers in Wales will not benefit from the council's proposed chartered teacher programme, which is expected to lead to a masters.

A pilot is due to finish in March, but the degree is chiefly aimed at teachers in the middle of their careers and at potential heads.

Mr Bassett, who helped develop the programme, said it simply was not suitable for new teachers: "You need at least five years' experience before you start the chartered programme because how can you fully reflect on your experiences if you're a brand new teacher?"

In Scotland, a chartered teacher scheme aimed at keeping experienced teachers in the classroom is up and running.

Supporters of the schemes say they will increase professionalism and improve standards.

Anne Knowles, secondary PGCE course director at Aberystwyth University, believes all teaching degrees should be at masters level. Her university's initial teacher training course is one of several in Wales to include credits towards a masters.

But even teachers determined to study at masters level can find the practical demands a strain.

Funding from the GTCW towards early professional development cannot be used towards the costs of higher education such as a masters. It can, however, contribute towards courses that develop teachers' personal teaching skills and subject knowledge.

How to handle first week fears and the bad behaviour blues

Looking for a job is one of the greatest fears of newly qualified teachers, say experts. But once they have clinched it, dealing with a badly behaved class and office politics are the greatest first week worries.

Kimberly Wilkins, a newly qualified English teacher at Penyrheol Comprehensive in Swansea, said: "Staffroom politics is a tricky issue. It's difficult being new and not knowing who to ask for - even getting to know people's names is a mammoth task.

"I think the best way to perceive the NQT year is as an extension of your PGCE year. You are still training and will be, in a sense, for your entire career."

Here are some top tips from the experts on taking control:

- Understand your school's behaviour policy Ask for a copy and learn it. Know what sanctions you can use and be consistent. If you say you're going to do something, do it.

- Reflect on your own teaching It's important to think about how you deal with behaviour problems. Talk to your mentor about any particularly good or bad experiences and, if necessary, ask them to observe your class specifically for that purpose.

- Watch how others do it You could ask to observe a colleague teaching one of your difficult classes, or find out about good practice in other schools and request a visit.

- Keep up to date with the latest research New behaviour techniques crop up regularly and it can be well worth trying some out. Visit for resources.

- Know what works for you There are as many ways of dealing with behaviour as there are teachers. Be careful not to revert to teaching the way you were taught in school, but do trust your instincts and the pupils. And if all else fails, ask for help.

Kimberly Wilkins, page 41

Trainee teachers' FAQ

I'm training as a teacher in Wales. Can I teach in England?

Yes, NQTs are eligible to teach in both England and Wales. Just register with the relevant teaching council.

Can I complete induction if I work part time or as a supply teacher?

Yes, supply placements of at least a term can count if they meet induction standards. Part-time or supply teachers are eligible for the same support as full-time permanent NQTs.

How long does induction take?

Induction lasts three terms in Wales (four in England). If you work part time, it is worked out pro rata. Unlike England, there is no time limit to complete induction, but you can only work as a short-term supply teacher for five years after gaining qualified teacher status.

Is it true that the General Teaching Council for Wales has no funding left for training this year?

Don't worry. Early professional development (EPD) is funded separately from continuing professional development, so you will still get your allocated amount.

How much money can I get?

All postgraduate trainees and some undergrads are eligible for bursaries. There are a variety of funding sources and grants. Eligibility depends on which subjects you teach and when you started. Priority subjects such as maths and science attract more money. You may also be eligible if you teach through the medium of Welsh and if you are a Welsh resident.

How much money will my school get?

The GTCW gives schools Pounds 3,700 to help you through your induction. In your second and third years, your school will receive Pounds 1,000 for EPD.

What can I use my EPD funding for?

You need to discuss this with your EPD co-ordinator or mentor, but it is quite flexible. Schools usually use the money to send new teachers on courses or to hire supply cover for you or your mentor when you are away. It can also be used for travel costs or towards relevant books and videos. processfundinginwales.aspx.

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