We must save our recruits

Teaching has always been seen as a career that is as "as safe as houses".

Ironically, the saying seems even truer today when property prices are falling and estate agents are bracing themselves for a scary slump. As we report on pages 1 and 3, many of Wales's newly-qualified teachers have been unable to find permanent posts over the past 18 months.

New primary teachers have suffered most from the jobs famine but many secondary-trained teachers have also discovered that their skills are unwanted. No wonder there is talk of an "NQT jobs crisis". The Assembly government and some teacher-trainers will doubtless see it in less dramatic terms, but if an advert for a Welsh primary teaching post attracts more than 200 applicants - 75 per cent of whom are NQTs - then we really do have a crisis.

And this crisis could turn into a tragedy if these expensively-trained teachers conclude that the game is not worth the candle and go off to pursue another profession. In an attempt to avert this, the Assembly government is loosening the almost sadistic rules governing the amount of supply work that new teachers can do before they must find a permanent post. The teacher unions and Plaid Cymru believe that an even better answer is to guarantee teachers a year's induction.

Neither strategy offers a complete solution. Allowing NQTs to work longer as supply teachers is nowhere near as good as offering them what they really want - a permanent job. And the guaranteed-induction-year idea also has drawbacks. Mature entrants, particularly, may not want to move away from their families,with no guarantee that the job will last more than a year.

But the position is by no means hopeless. As we intend to demonstrate during the course of our three-week investigation, if there is sufficient will on the part of the Assembly, local education authorities, schools and unions, a solution can be found.

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