'Up to £20m a year' to guarantee new teacher jobs in NI

Teacher in a classroom The DUP says there is a massive oversupply of trained students for the jobs available

The Department of Education has said it would cost up to £20m a year to guarantee newly qualified teachers a year's induction.

It follows claims by DUP MLA Jonathan Craig that up to 95% of new teachers are unable to secure full time jobs.

MLAs are due to debate concerns over the number of new teachers later.

The department said 22% of graduates in 2010 got a teaching post of a permanent or "significant temporary nature".

It said this figure had been provided by the General Teaching Council.

The department said it had taken a number of measures to increase employment opportunities for newly qualified teachers.

One of these was to reduce the overall intake to initial teacher education courses by almost 25% since 2004/05.

The department said it had explored the possibility of introducing a guaranteed year of induction, similar to arrangements in Scotland.

However, it said the costs associated with this would be in the region of £12m in the first year and £20m in each subsequent year.

"Also, the success of the scheme in Scotland has yet to be proven, with some evidence suggesting that teachers are experiencing difficulty in securing posts two or three years after qualifying," the Department of Education said.

Earlier, Mr Craig said there was a massive oversupply of trained students for the limited number of jobs available.

The DUP assembly member, who is proposing the motion, said that only five per cent of those who qualified last year found full time employment.

He said he wanted to know why the number being trained had not been slowed given the fall in the population.

"A lot of them are purely surviving on filling in for people going off on maternity leave and sick leave," he added.

"I think those (roles) are becoming increasingly limited as schools come under huge pressure with regard to their budgets as funding dries up.

"We are at a position now where sickness levels are falling and schools themselves are forced into laying people off, so all of the ability for schools to absorb people on a part time basis I think is becoming increasingly less."

Mr Craig said the Department of Education needed to reduce the number of training places or introduce a scheme that allows trained students to gain teaching experience in a school environment.

Richard Troupe has applied for 20 teaching posts since graduating from his teacher training course at Queen's University in 2009 and obtained two short-term contracts.

He said only five of the 22 people on his course had gained permanent employment.

Teaching qualifications

"A few other teachers have completely given up on it and are now working in any job they can find whether it be an administrator in an office or a supervisor in retail," he added.

"There isn't that retention of teaching graduates and a lot of them including myself have become very cynical."

Geraldine Morrison from Belfast finished her teaching training this summer.

She has secured two weeks of substitute teaching, but worries about her long-term employment prospects.

"Two weeks is amazing right now, there are people who don't even have a day yet," she said.

"You don't know what the future will hold and I am just hoping that something opens up throughout the year, but it is hard not having that stability."

The department said of those who had graduated in 2006, some 76% had now obtained a teaching post of a permanent or significant temporary nature.

It said it was working through the North-South bodies on the island of Ireland to "remove obstacles to mobility" so that teachers in Northern Ireland can also avail of employment opportunities in the Irish Republic.

"This includes ensuring the mutual recognition of teaching qualifications in both the north and south," it added.

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