A "horrendous" and "iniquitous" picture of probationer teachers unable to find permanent jobs when they graduate was unveiled at the General Teaching Council's meeting this week.
The Government was blamed for underfunding education authorities, and the issue was due to be raised when council representatives met the Education Minister yesterday.
More than 9,000 teachers are now provisionally registered - almost one in seven of the total - which means they have been unable to accumulate sufficient time for the two years required to become fully registered. The council would expect no more than 2,500 provisional registrations at any one time.
Ivor Sutherland, the GTC registrar, told the council: "This reveals a horrendous problem of people being trained in the expectation that they will get a job, yet the great majority can not. It's a quite shocking statistic" Many probationers now experience short-term supply work as their introduction to teaching. Scottish Office figures show over 5,000 qualified teachers on education authority supply lists, yet some authorities complain there is a shortage of supply teachers.
The situation was described as "iniquitous and immoral," according to Malcolm MacKenzie, senior lecturer in education at Glasgow University. "I am now persuaded that this is one of the biggest issues facing us" Several speakers complained about the statistical basis used by the Scottish Office to regulate the flow of students into teacher training, first highlighted in The TESS on October 31. Tony Finn, the GTC's education convener and a Fife secondary head, said the statistical evidence did not match the experience of schools but he cautioned against "training excess teachers for unemployment" The meeting heard from Compton MacLeod, a Renfrewshire primary head, that his authority had run out of primary supply teachers on October 23. Wolseley Brown, an Airdrie primary teacher, said North Lanarkshire has also been unable to find supply teachers and is relying on teachers who had taken early retirement often on health grounds.
Mr MacLeod suggested that more teachers should be trained through the one-year primary postgraduate route so they could become available more quickly than those from the four-year BEd course.
Mr Brown commented: "The difference between the statistics and the reality is that no one has looked at the graduate take-up of posts. If I was offered a permanent post with Cable and Wireless or the odd day of supply work with North Lanarkshire, I know which I would choose. Our students are being dumped by the system"