Trainee teachers encouraged to study in regions where jobs are scarce

27th November 2009 at 00:00
Survey shows that just a third of those qualifying in the North East find permanent primary roles due to falling school rolls

Only a third of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are able to find permanent jobs in some regions, new figures show.

School closures and amalgamations are forcing NQTs unable to find jobs to take supply or temporary work, according to the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

Thousands of graduates are being allowed to train in areas with high surplus places in schools, even though official statistics show most NQTs remain where they study.

Just 33 per cent of those qualifying in the North East got permanent jobs in primary schools compared with 73 per cent in London. Twenty per cent of those trained in the South West went into supply work, compared with just four per cent in the East of the country.

Around 45 per cent of NQTs in the North East, and 22 per cent in the North West, had to accept a fixed-term contract, compared with just 14 per cent in London and 10 per cent in the East.

Only around 18 per cent of new primary teachers, and 24 per cent of new secondary teachers, said they had relocated to find a job.

The figures are shown in this year's NQT survey from the TDA and are similar to results in 2008.

School rolls have been falling in the North East since mines were closed and the shipbuilding industry declined. Most local authorities are looking to cut thousands of surplus places. However, teacher training is available at universities in Durham, Sunderland, Northumbria and Newcastle.

"The employment is just not here, I know 85 people applied for one primary job in Gateshead," said Mick Lyons, executive member for the North East at teaching union the NASUWT.

"Something needs to be done, because there are so many people graduating here still. They are unlikely to move to the South East to find jobs because they can't afford it. The irony is that this is the perfect reason to have smaller class sizes but councils aren't taking that approach."

Training numbers at universities are decided almost entirely on quality using the results of Ofsted inspections rather than local employment statistics. The TDA would be acting illegally if it used other criteria because of the 1994 Education Act.

The Government uses a model which takes into account retirement and the birth rate to decide the national number of trainees needed.

But James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said it would be sensible if the TDA "had scope" to take into account regional factors.

"But I don't think it's a problem to encourage lots of applications in certain areas - the more choice universities have the better quality trainees they can choose," he said.

Professor John Howson, head of recruitment analyst Education Data Surveys, also wants the TDA to do more research into regional variations.

"We know people don't relocate, so there's no point in training people in a particular area and then expecting them to move to another region where education is very different," he said.

Huge regional variations in job success are not new. A General Teaching Council for England study estimated that just two-thirds of teachers who qualified in 2007 found a job.

A TDA spokeswoman said: "We do have due regard for regional dimension when allocating initial teacher training (ITT) places. However, our approach is from a trainee or potential trainee perspective and as such we are more concerned with ensuring that there is a reasonable level of ITT provision throughout all regions in England.

"Issues such as falling rolls and small population should be considered by DCSF and any necessary adjustments would be made at a national level."


- Eighty-five per cent of primary trained NQTs gave a "very good" or "good" rating when asked about the overall quality of their training, a similar rating to last year.

- Around 15 per cent said their course was "satisfactory" or "poor".

- Eighty-seven per cent of secondary trained NQTs gave a "very good" or "good" rating when asked about the overall quality of their training, a similar rating to last year. Around 13 per cent said their course was "satisfactory" or "poor".

- Primary trained NQTs made on average five job applications and had around two interviews compared with three applications and two interviews for secondary trained NQTs.

- Just 29 per cent of NQTs were aware of the TDA's regional careers advisers and only 10 per cent used them.

- Around 20 per cent used subject knowledge booster courses and only 15 per cent were part of the Student Associates Scheme - both set up to help graduates make decisions about their training.

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