Teachers on the dole: jobless soar by 75%

3rd September 2010 at 01:00
Schools reluctant to take on new staff

The number of teachers claiming unemployment benefit has risen by 75 per cent in the two years since the economic downturn took hold, The TES can reveal.

Figures for England and Wales show the number of teachers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance climbed from 2,610 in July 2008 to 4,580 in July this year.

In primaries alone, the number of teachers on the dole has almost doubled in the past two years.

Experts have put the dramatic rise down to a reluctance among schools to take on new staff before Government cuts are announced this autumn, and redundancies caused by increasing numbers of school closures.

Teachers are also reluctant to change jobs because of the uncertainty of the employment market, meaning that fewer opportunities arise.

The claimant figures may mask an even worse situation: thousands of qualified teachers are believed to be working in temporary posts in other industries to make ends meet before they find permanent teaching jobs, experts have warned.

This year, The TES has already reported numerous cases of independent sector teachers losing their jobs as recession-hit schools are forced to close. Twenty-one private schools have closed since January 2009, and many jobs have also been lost to mergers.

Older and more experienced teachers are being targeted, too. In April, two dedicated advanced skills teachers were told they would lose their jobs at a secondary in Swindon even though funding for their roles does not run out until March 2011.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned heads not to axe posts in anticipation of cuts.

But Martin Freedman, head of pay at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "The Government has promised to protect front-line services, but these figures show the real repercussions of what they are doing.

"Some schools have been pre-empting the cuts and this is why we are seeing redundancies."

He said the fact that teachers were being trained but unable to find a job was a "colossal waste" of resources.

Market analysts said there are still jobs available if people are prepared to relocate to a different region, but the boom in mature entrants to the profession means fewer want to uproot their families for their careers.

There are opportunities for teachers in London and the South East as councils prepare to cater for the impact of the 2008 "baby boom".

Professor John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, a sister company of The TES, said teachers were also signing up for temporary work in increasing numbers. The General Teaching Council for England registered 20,000 new supply teachers between March 2008 and March 2010.

"My concern, particularly in the secondary sector, is that we are probably still training too many teachers," said Professor Howson.

The PGCE Graduate

Heather Stanton qualified with a PGCE in primary with French in June but is now claiming Jobseeker's Allowance after failing to find a job for September.

She said that signing on is "demoralising", but she remains hopeful about the future as she is well-qualified and prepared to move.

She claims the majority of fellow PGCE students at Cumbria University, where she studied, have left without jobs.

"I have completely thrown myself into job hunting and have looked across the country," Ms Stanton said. "I'm not fussy about which key stage I teach or where it is. I haven't tried London yet, but I will."

She added: "Visiting the job centre is very frustrating as you are told to apply for jobs you don't want, mainly bar work or retail. I really want the time to focus on job hunting for teaching work."

"I've signed up to do supply, and you never know where that might lead."

  • Original headline: Teachers on the dole: jobless figures soar by 75% in two years

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