Probationers sign up to maximise job options

26th October 2012 at 01:00
Increasing numbers of newcomers opt into preference waiver scheme

More and more probationers are expressing a willingness to work anywhere in Scotland by signing up to the "preference waiver" scheme.

Financial incentives - pound;6,000 each for primary teachers and pound;8,000 for secondary - are one reason they are prepared to relinquish a say over where they go for their induction year.

Others include a belief that being choosy is not an option; a sense of adventure; and even altruism.

In May, 396 student teachers ticked the waiver box - up from 375 last year, but only a marginal percentage increase in the total number of probationers. By the end of August, 359 had reached the probation stage, compared with 334 last year.

"I was looking for some adventure, had no relationship ties to any one place, and the added bonus of the extra money to pay off undergraduate debt," said Samara Hoggan, 23, from Haddington in East Lothian.

The University of Glasgow graduate is having a "great time" teaching history at Stromness Academy on Orkney.

She misses friends and family - "but they are only a Skype away!" - and has had to become a more organised shopper, as a lot of places close on Sunday.

But the many advantages include the islands' beauty, the friendliness of the people and an excellent support network. She describes the waiver scheme as "a great chance for probationer teachers to get out of their comfort zone and embrace new challenges".

Miss Hoggan will apply the same principle when job-hunting after her induction year: "In the current climate the luxury to pick and choose does not exist."

Andy Johnston, a history teacher from Northern Ireland, was placed in Aberdeenshire's Banchory Academy.

He ticked the waiver box in part to feel that he was helping out areas which found it hard to recruit teachers: "I'd rather be somewhere I was needed, than where I wanted to be."

Mr Johnston, 23, ended up less than 20 miles from where he studied to become a teacher, at the University of Aberdeen, but says that he, too, would be willing to go anywhere in Scotland for a job next year.

He added that a minority of his fellow students opted for the waiver, as many had families and could not travel far.

Aberdeenshire Council took 34 probationers through the scheme this year. Maria Walker, director of education, learning and leisure, said: "As a large, diverse rural authority, it is great to have young people from other areas of the country coming with their very different - often urban - experiences to share with out children.

"Often the teachers who come here on probation will settle in the area and contribute to the vibrancy of the North East."

The only authority not to take any preference-waiver probationers this year was Shetland.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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