Too few posts in the right places

16th January 2004 at 00:00
Frustrated new teachers told to be more mobile if they want a permanent job. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

Hundreds of newly-qualified teachers are struggling to find permanent posts because of a surplus of staff in some areas.

Figures show that up to 16 per cent of NQTs do not get jobs within six months of qualifying. However, in some parts of the country the figure is far higher.

The Government said competition for vacancies was "good news" because it meant schools could choose the best candidates.

But recruitment experts said this week that the surplus was "a scandalous waste of public money".

Although neither the Teacher Training Agency nor the Department for Education and Skills keep a check on the supply and demand for teachers regionally, it is thought that parts of the North-east of England, the North-west and South-west are worst affected.

London, traditionally an area with chronic teacher shortages, is attracting more staff after the introduction of mortgage and housing subsidies to off-set high living costs.

Alison Savory, 24, a primary teacher from York, has a temporary contract at a school in the city until the end of the summer term after beginning the academic year without a job.

She said: "I am very worried that I will be in the same situation next September. It seems that too many teachers are being trained in certain areas. I am a floating key stage 1 teacher and I don't have my own class. I went into teaching because I love children and want to make a difference, and not because ads on the television told me it was a good career.

"I am very frustrated and concerned about where my career is heading. It is hard to motivate myself working in these circumstances."

Lesley Chambers, also 24, who lives in Reading, Berkshire, is a French and Spanish teacher. She has applied for 12 jobs in the past year and sent her CV to 20 schools.

She said: "I had believed these were shortage subjects but I cannot find a permanent job. I will be doing maternity cover at a school in Oxfordshire from the end of February, but at the moment I am still temping.

"There were 60 applicants for the last job I applied for so that shows the scale of the problem."

John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, which monitors recruitment and retention of teachers, said: "It is a scandalous waste of public money when teachers like this cannot get a job. Things might even out in a year or two.

"My concern is that in the meantime these teachers may become so frustrated that they decide to leave teaching altogether and do something else."

Chris Keates, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Areas of teacher shortages are patchy, as are areas of surplus. It is a case of trying to match the two things up.

"We are certainly being contacted by NQTs who are frustrated they cannot get a permanent job."

The TTA figures suggest that 84 per cent of NQTs were in posts by January last year, but the circumstances of all the remaining 16 per cent were unknown with only 2 per cent definitely still searching for jobs.

A DfES spokesman said the Government's recruitment and retention policies had created more competition for posts.

He said: "We make no apologies for that. Being able to select the best applicant from a well-qualified field is good news for schools and good news for parents and children."

He added that NQTs had to be prepared to be "mobile, or wait until a suitable opening arises".

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, said: "Not all NQTs may find a job on their doorstep, but all those prepared to be flexible will have some success."

Friday magazine 6

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