'What a dreadful waste of talent'

12th August 2005 at 01:00
Union leader calls for newly-qualified teachers to be guaranteed jobs during their induction year. Jon Slater reports

Louise Cleveley is living proof of the difficulties facing newly-qualified primary teachers in their search for a first job.

The 23-year-old is a member of the fast-track scheme, gained a PGCE from Durham in July and has seven years' school experience, including 12 months as a teaching assistant.

Yet despite 30 applications to schools in West Yorkshire and five interviews, she has yet to find a teaching job.

Ms Cleveley is not alone. A study by Buckingham university's centre for education and employment research found that two-thirds of people who qualified as primary teachers in 2004 were without jobs in March the following year.

The teaching union NASUWT this week called for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland's example and guarantee all newly-qualified teachers a job for their induction year.

Chris Keates, NASUWT's general secretary, said: "It is a tragedy and a gross waste of public money when newly-qualified teachers leave teacher training and are unable to find a teaching post.

"Demoralisation and disillusionment set in rapidly when it becomes evident to them that they will either have to abandon their chosen career before it has even started or take on supply work, which is a most unsatisfactory induction into teaching."

Ms Cleveley, who is a member of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "I feel really aggrieved because there really is nothing more I could have done.

"I know it is not the fault of my application technique as I have had my supporting statement checked by three independent people, who have all been impressed. Feedback from schools is that my application was strong.

"I have excellent references and reports from my PGCE. I couldn't be more enthusiastic about teaching, yet I'm unemployed.

"For this September I have registered with supply agencies, but I cannot use this as a long-term option as I can't live with the financial insecurity.

"Although the pay is fantastic when you're getting it, if it's not regular I can't pay the rent. So, if a permanent job does not come up before Christmas, I will have to give up the career in which I have invested seven years of my life. I think that's a real shame.

"I know I can teach, I'm just being prevented from doing so by vastly inflated numbers of trainees.

"Each job I've applied for has received a minimum of 60 applications. The average is about 150 and in some cases it has been more than 300. It's an awful situation."

Liza Goswell is another newly-qualified primary teacher struggling to find work. She qualified with a BEd in July but has had only one interview, despite applying for more than 25 jobs in the Plymouth area.

Ms Goswell said: "Experience seems to mean nothing.

"I was a teaching assistant for three years, a mother helper, I was an active member of the PTA, I ran after-school clubs, a Brownie pack, was a youth worker for five years, opened a mother and toddler group, and was team leader on a number of holiday clubs as well as organising two of my own.

"I was encouraged by my headteacher and colleagues to join the profession.

"I have worked part-time most of the way through my training but am now heavily in debt after four years' training and feeling completely deflated."

* jon.slater@tes.co.uk

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