Probationer job prospects look up

9th December 2011 at 00:00
Figures confirm first upturn, but picture remains bleak for many

Employment prospects for newly-qualified teachers are looking up - but four out of five still do not have the security of a full-time permanent contract.

Figures compiled by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) confirm the findings of TESS's survey in August, which showed an upturn in post-probationer employment.

This year's GTCS survey, carried out in October, showed that 20.9 per cent of 2010-11 probationers had full-time permanent work, up from 16.1 per cent a year ago.

It is the first upward turn since the GTCS survey started in 2004-05, although the figure remains lower than in all but two years.

The peak came in 2004-05, when 63.3 per cent of post-probationers had full-time permanent contracts by October of their first year as fully- qualified teachers - more than three times as many as in 2011.

Overall, including temporary and supply contracts, there are 54.2 per cent of 2010-11 probationers with full-time work, up from 44.1 per cent in 2010. There are 18.8 per cent of post-probationers unemployed, down from 27.1 per cent.

But the less sanguine interpretation is that 79.1 per cent do not have a full-time permanent contract.

GTCS chief executive Anthony Finn said the upturn was "encouraging", but stressed that the picture remained far from ideal.

"The highly-skilled and enthusiastic teachers who graduate from the Teacher Induction Scheme have much to contribute to the development of our new curriculum, and it is important that our schools and our young people do not miss out on the benefits of their expertise," he said.

"We therefore remain concerned that the overall proportion of new teachers gaining jobs is still lower than we would prefer. We are, however, aware that the Scottish Government recognises this priority."

One factor for the upturn may have been the reduction in student-teacher intakes to universities in 2009, as the Government sought to address the growing gap between the number of probationers and available jobs.

The response rate to the survey was lower than in previous years, at 31.3 per cent - 860 teachers replied from a possible 2,747 - compared with 48.1 per cent last year. The GTCS stressed that there was no way of telling whether those who did not reply were more or less successful in finding work.

Mr Finn said that the GTCS believed its survey was "still an accurate representation" of probationers' job prospects.

The GTCS will carry out a follow-up survey next spring.

Key findings

(2010 figures in brackets):

- Survey response rate: 31.3 per cent (48.1 per cent)

- Probationers with full-time permanent contracts: 20.9 per cent (16.1 per cent)

- Unemployed probationers: 18.8 per cent (27.1 per cent)

- Part-time permanent contracts: 1.6 per cent (1.6 per cent)

- Full-time temporary contracts: 24.8 per cent (19.5 per cent)

- Part-time temporary contracts: 9.2 per cent (8.8 per cent)

- Full-time supply contracts: 8.5 per cent (8.5 per cent)

- Part-time supply contracts: 4.4 per cent (4.9 per cent)

- Probationers on supply lists: 11.7 per cent (13.6 per cent)

TESS survey

Figures released by TESS in August showed an upturn in probationer employment for the first time.

The initial annual TESS survey of probationer employment, conducted in 2007, found that 32 per cent had secured permanent posts. With each successive year that figure fell, reaching a low point of 12 per cent in 2010.

This year, 16 per cent had found permanent positions.

The Scottish Government took credit, having pressurised universities to slash numbers on postgraduate teaching courses and given councils money to increase teacher jobs.

But the picture remained gloomy for many. The 29 authorities who replied to the survey this year had 2,622 probationers, but found permanent jobs for only 407.

The stark fact was that 84 per cent of probationers had not found full- time permanent work.

The Government repeated the comment it has made every year in response to the TESS survey: that things would improve as the year went on.

Not by much, the GTCS survey has shown.

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