System to blame for lack of teaching jobs

29th August 2008 at 01:00

In her recent comments, "Broaden your horizons" (TESS August 15), Maureen Watt, the Schools Minister, is quoted as saying that new teachers should not expect "precisely the job in precisely the school (they) want". There seems to be a view among ministers that newly-qualified teachers are unwilling to make adjustments to their personal lives in order to find a permanent, or indeed any other, post.

I find it frustrating that the people responsible for making important decisions about the employment prospects of NQTs seem to believe that this group of intelligent, hardworking and committed professionals are unaware that, firstly, teaching requires 100 per cent commitment 100 per cent of the time and, secondly, that the job market is to be highly competitive.

Teachers completing their probation do not expect to be handed a permanent job on a platter. Nor do they expect to walk into their dream role straight out of training. It is insulting to suggest that they do.

These graduates have already completed a challenging and intensive year, perhaps in an authority that was not their first choice. They have made sacrifices, perhaps giving up a previous job, giving up time with their families, or moving to be closer to their placement school.

The majority of NQTs I know have tried anything and everything to have a hope of continued employment. It is not the teachers but the system which is to blame.

We are told that in previous years "90 per cent of newly-qualified teachers were working in schools by October". What we are not told is that this includes teachers working as little as one day a week, or in schools on a temporary fixed-term contract. Yes, this is better than nothing. Yes, it helps you learn new skills for your toolkit. What it doesn't do is give you the financial, emotional and social security to do your job to the best of your ability.

There is no way new teachers can facilitate their pupils to be successful, confident, responsible and effective if they are not allowed to be these things themselves.

Rebekah Stackhouse, Address supplied.

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