Unions condemn induction 'lottery'

31st March 2000 at 01:00
ONE in five new teachers is not getting the support they need during their induction year, according to a union survey.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 20 per cent of the 456 newly-qualified teachers it questioned felt they had not been given the chances they needed in their first term to improve their skills. A significant minority said they had not received the full programme of monitoring and support.

Meryl Thompson, the association's head of policy, said the figures were "worrying", and described the standard of induction as a lottery - dependent on the quality of the entrant's school.

The new-style induction year was introduced by the Government last September. Headteachers have a statutory duty to ensure new recruits teach only 90 per cent of a full timetable, leaving time for professional development. Failing the induction year means new teachers must leave the profession.

The recruits' problems have been compounded by inadequate funding, according to the National Union of Teachers. It said schools were receiving barely enough to cover recruits' reduced timetables let alone the additional costs of tutoring and mentoring. An NUT survey of eucation authorities found that the funding to schools per term per new teacher ranged from pound;420 to pound;1,200. The average, pound;739, hardly covered the pound;720 cost of supply cover needed to free up 10 per cent of timetables.

Three-quarters of education authorities had not retained any money centrally, despite having responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the progress of NQTs; 85 per cent wanted the Government to make a separate grant to fund induction.

This year, induction formed part of the funding for school improvement. Because of the timing of the grant, authorities had to allocate cash to schools without knowing how many new teachers they were taking on.

The ATL survey found one in five new teachers questioned their induction mentor's knowledge of the requirements of the process and their ability to coach.

Five of the teachers surveyed said they had received an "unsatisfactory" grading after their first term, and were on course for failure. Anecdotal evidence suggests most of these will drop out before the end of the year.

Ms Thompson said: "In some cases, they (NQTs) are not getting what should be obligatory and in others good practice is lacking."

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