Want to work? Think about relocating
New teachers should be prepared to relocate to find work and broaden their horizons, learning minister Alasdair Allan has warned.
Dr Allan said that the 2,000 teachers completing their induction year were entering a jobs market that had significantly improved over the past two years, but that they may need to move to secure a post.
"Every year, we hear from local authorities who are unable to fill some teaching posts," he told a celebratory gathering of probationers in Edinburgh, organised by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. "I would encourage you as far as possible to broaden your horizons when searching for a post."
Dr Allan told the new teachers - one for each of Scotland's 32 local authorities - that the jobs situation was "significantly better than when I last spoke at this event two years ago".
A recent GTCS survey, albeit based on only a 16 per cent response rate, suggested that 45 per cent of probationers had found full-time permanent work by March, compared with 25 per cent a year previously.
Dr Allan said that teacher unemployment was "significantly lower" than elsewhere in the UK, and added: "We have brought teacher supply and demand back into balance."
He also vowed to protect new teachers from the unnecessary extra work that many fear is beginning to blight Curriculum for Excellence.
The recent EIS survey of primary teachers had "highlighted some legitimate concerns about teacher workload", he explained, a situation that was "utterly unacceptable".
Dr Allan acknowledged a tendency "to surround Curriculum for Excellence with the smokescreen of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork", underlining that CfE should be "about freeing you up to do what you do best".
He also invoked another issue recently highlighted by the EIS, when he decried the "unacceptable links between deprivation and under-attainment", adding: "We need to tackle it now."
Gillian Hamilton, GTCS head of educational services, told the probationers that new professional standards would help to tackle such issues: "For the first time, our standards have values at the heart of them, and the first one is social justice."
But for now, she stressed, where children happened to live often had a greater bearing on their future than their schools did.
Rosa Murray, GTCS education adviser on professional learning, said: "You don't wait to be a leader for two or five years - you're a leader now. If you're not a leader in the classroom, then who is?"
GTCS chief executive Anthony Finn advised the teachers to see beyond a child's bad behaviour and look instead for the talents that it may obscure.
He recalled teaching a girl whose wild behaviour was inextricably linked to a "devastating" family history: her mother was dead, her father in prison.
But once teachers discovered she could sing beautifully, they gave her opportunities to do so in school - and she improved in all aspects of her education.
Photo credit: Alamy
Original headline: Want to work? Think about relocating, minister says