New teachers scramble for dwindling jobs

FEWER than one in six newly qualified teachers has a full-time permanent job, according to shocking figures published yesterday into the continuing crisis in classroom employment.

Nearly a third of new teachers is out of work, the study also found - slightly down on last year, but still five times the figure from 2004-5.

Ministers claimed they were "turning a corner" with teacher unemployment, but unions and education experts warned of the "creeping casualisation" of teaching, as employers use the flooded market to put new teachers on temporary and part-time contracts, reducing the quality of children's education.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The figures were revealed in a survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) which showed that by mid-October just 16.1 per cent of respondents had a full-time, permanent post. That compares with 63.3 per cent of all new teachers five years ago.

The 2009-10 survey also showed 27.1 per cent of all newly-qualified teachers had failed to find work in the sector, down 0.4 per cent from last year, but significantly higher than the 5.3 per cent not employed in teaching when the 2004-5 survey was carried out.

The GTCS survey also shows that 19.5 per cent are on a full-time temporary contract, 8.8 per cent are on a temporary part-time contract, while 13.6 per cent are on the supply list.

The survey looks at teachers who have just finished their probationary year in the classroom, after which they have to join the open market in search for a job.

Falling class rolls, more teacher training places and council cutbacks are all being blamed for the crisis which now means that hundreds of newly qualified teachers in Scotland face a fight for a job, with around six probationers for every post.

• Analysis: Our induction scheme impresses the world

• Teacher case study: 'I got snapped up in England straight away'

The survey found evidence that newly qualified teachers were being forced to leave the country in search of work. Of the 379 newly-qualified teachers who had not found any teaching work in Scotland, 88 were employed in the profession in another country.

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said last night: "We cannot escape from the financial reality faced by the whole public sector, and the uncomfortable truth is that education cannot be exempt from budget reductions."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ministers sought to highlight the fact that the number of teachers out of work had "stabilised", and highlighted plans to hire more post-probationary teachers next summer.Education secretary Michael Russell said: "The results of the GTCS survey provide further evidence that we have turned the corner as far as teacher unemployment is concerned."

But his view was not shared by members of the teaching profession who say they question why they put themselves through teacher training when there were so few jobs at the end of it.

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland said: "The prospects for new teachers look increasingly bleak. What we are witnessing is the creeping casualisation of the teaching profession, with teachers increasingly being employed on short-term contracts with inferior conditions and scant job security.

"This is bad news not only for new teachers, but also for Scottish education and the pupils in our schools who have to deal with constant change to their teachers."

The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association described the figures as "shocking and a waste of talent and training".

The figures come a week after it emerged that teacher numbers have fallen by 3,000 over the past three years, from 55,000 to around 52,000. There is now an average of one teacher for every 13.3 children, a slight increase on the number of pupils per teacher compared with last year.

Further bad news emerged this week when a study found that Scotland's schools are struggling to improve at the same rate as those in other developed nations.

Labour last night branded Mr Russell as "the worst education minister since devolution". Education spokesman Des McNulty added: "Highly trained and well-qualified teachers are being treated as a casualised workforce, obliged to look for work on a weekly or daily basis."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lib Dem education spokeswoman Margaret Smith said: "Probationers who are nearly halfway through their final year of training will be extremely concerned by the lack of opportunities that await them."