With such bleak prospects, an NQT brain drain may be afoot

2nd September 2011 at 01:00
Scotland is brimming with new talent but without jobs here, they will be forced to move on

Job prospects in primary education have never been so good!" This was one of the sweeping banners on an information sheet I received at an open day for a B.Ed Primary course, only four years ago. Looking back, I think it's safe to say I was duped.

The job situation for new teachers is bleak; that is just something we have to deal with. In my cohort of final-year student teachers - and I'm sure across Scotland - there is no lack of forward-thinking, enthusiastic and dedicated new teachers. This makes the situation even worse.

The prospect of completing four years of teacher training, and hopefully a successful year's probation, then to have to join supply lists, which many of us are simply saying no to, causes us great distress.

Despite the cuts in student teacher numbers, the competition is still high. Students and newly-qualified teachers know we have to do all we can to show how we stand out from our counterparts in order even to attempt to get the few posts available. So that is exactly what we are trying to do - we're getting creative.

A group of us on the B.Ed course at Strathclyde have recently formed the CPD in Education Society, a cross-sector, cross-stage society led by students with the aim of facilitating regular, practical-based CPD in partnership with other Strathclyde students and the wider education community.

The society offers an excellent means for student teachers, from a very early stage, to take responsibility for their own professional and personal development. We hope this will improve our chances of having a meaningful impact on children's lives throughout our careers; particularly in an uncertain employment climate.

But I fear this creativity won't stay in Scotland, and that many of us will have to apply our skills abroad. Many of us are sitting with job prospects and even job offers in other countries. The TESS editor got it exactly right when she wrote, "Our talent is in demand - just not here" (19 August).

This is an exciting time to be in Scottish education, and that is where most of us want to stay. Realistically, though, our passion, our drive and commitment to providing the best for children and young people won't allow us simply to stop and wait for the situation to improve. Our plan is simple. We are going to do the very best for the children in our care, regardless. Then we are going to try our hardest to get positions here in Scotland. But if we can't find them, we'll go abroad.

We remain hopeful that the situation will improve and we will be able to work in Scotland, and that one day we can believe the statement: "Job prospects in primary education have never been so good!"

Paul Campbell is a B.Ed Primary student at Strathclyde University.

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