'Preference waiver' scheme popular with probationers

2nd September 2011 at 01:00
Growing proportion willing to move anywhere for work

The percentage of probationers forfeiting any say over where they will work has risen.

Some 375 student teachers volunteered this year for the "preference waiver" scheme, which is designed to attract probationer teachers to places where jobs are harder to fill, although only 334 reached the probation stage.

They agreed to work anywhere in Scotland in exchange for a payment of pound;6,000 (primary teachers) or pound;8,000 (secondary).

Although this is a drop from last year's figure of 481, a much smaller cohort of probationers this year means the proportion of applicants rose from 15 to 17 per cent.

But John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, believes still more people should be willing to travel long distances to find work - a flexibility that could improve their long-term prospects.

The former Aberdeen City education director said he had always looked favourably on applicants with a "breadth and variety of experience", such as the waiver scheme might provide.

Apart from East Dunbartonshire, every council in Scotland has at least one probationer who arrived through the scheme, although the largest concentrations are in more rural authorities.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said it was "an effective way of filling posts in parts of Scotland that are less favoured by probationer teachers".

Of this year's 334 waiver probationers, 238 are working at secondary level and 96 at primary.

Lucy Simon, a 25-year-old from Edinburgh, is teaching at Orkney's Stromness Primary. She said: "The probation year was always going to be a huge mountain to climb. So I thought `why not try it in a new place?'"

Ms Simon, who is sharing accommodation with one of two other waiver probationers in Orkney, added: "I would be willing to go literally anywhere in Scotland for work."

Orkney assistant education director Marilyn Richards said the waiver scheme had been "crucial" over the years in staffing secondary subjects with teacher shortages, such as home economics, languages, maths and religious and moral education.

"Probationers who tick the `go anywhere' box have to be a wee bit brave because they could end up in any area and any school," she said. "They tend to be quite confident, settle quickly and mix well in the community."

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk

Preference table

Authorities with most preference waiver probationers

Highland - 51

Fife - 38

Perth and Kinross - 28

Aberdeenshire - 27

Dumfries and Galloway - 23

Scottish Borders - 22

Dundee - 18

Aberdeen - 15

East Lothian - 13

South Ayrshire - 13.

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