Universities under fire on start dates

UNIVERSITIES may come under pressure to change their procedures to avoid disadvantaging new recruits to teaching.

The induction issue arose at this week's meeting of the General Teaching Council for Scotland which gave its backing to probationers being allowed to have two entry dates instead of the sole August start.

Probationers are guaranteed a year's training under the post-McCrone settlement. But students facing resits and newly qualified teachers from Stirling University, where term dates differ, cannot take up posts until January. As things stand, they would not be able to start until the following August.

Douglas Weir, the council's vice-convener, said it was essential these students received the same standard of support. If this could not be guaranteed, the universities would have to alter the pattern of courses to ensure equitability.

Professor Weir said: "This could be provided if students could get a January start followed by a year's induction. If for any reason that cannot be managed, then the universities have to look at their course pattern."

Jack Laidlaw, convener of the GTC's probation committee, said that the issue was one of "paramount importance".

May Ferries of Victoria primary in Glasgow was one of a number of teacher members who said they understood why a second start was advocated but voiced concerns about the practicalities.

"There are challenges enough matching them first time round. There will be new complications with temporary staff and posts being held back for probationers."

Myra Pearson, depute registrar, said that despite the difficulties the council should not lose sight of the fact that 2,108 of 2,200 who graduated in June have been allocated to schools as part of the induction scheme.

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