Scottish teacher numbers fall to record low

By Seonag MacKinnon
BBC Scotland education correspondent

image captionOnly one in six newly qualified teachers has secured a full-time permanent job

Unemployment among new teachers has reached record levels.

Figures released by the General Teaching Council of Scotland indicate just one in six of those who qualified this summer has secured a full-time permanent job.

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

Five years ago 64% obtained full-time permanent posts. Now the level is 16%.

More than 25% of this year's newly qualified teachers have been unsuccessful in obtaining even a few days of work from time to time.

GTC Scotland surveyed a total of 1,400 teachers who had just finished their probationary year in the classroom.

'Casualised workforce'

Anthony Finn, GTC Scotland chief executive, said he was "concerned about the continuing fall in the number of new teachers gaining permanent employment".

A spokesman for the teachers' union, the Educational Institute of Scotland said the figures would make "alarming reading for trainee and induction year teachers, and for Scottish education as a whole".

He added: "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 and the difficulties with continuity that this inevitably causes."

Labour education spokesman Des McNulty said the figures showed "the damage being done to Scottish education and the careers of newly-qualified teachers by the SNP's mismanagement of Scottish education."

He said: "Highly trained and well-qualified teachers are being treated as a casualised workforce, obliged to look for work on a weekly or daily basis."

Mr McNulty added: "The SNP promised to maintain teacher numbers but thousands of jobs have been lost since 2007.

"Increasing numbers of expensively trained teachers are leaving the profession and in many instances leaving the country.

"These figures show up the human cost of SNP mismanagement - prospects blighted, careers put on hold and opportunities denied."

He branded it a "tragedy for the young teachers directly affected" and said it was also "seriously damaging children's education in Scotland" as continuity of teaching could be affected.


A spokesman for Cosla - the representative body for local councils - said it valued teachers.

He added: "However, 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.

"We also need to recognise that falling school rolls will also inevitably lead to fewer number of teachers being employed."

Taking into account a rise in the number of temporary contracts, the survey indicates that 35.6% of newly-qualified teachers have found full-time work - either permanent or temporary - virtually unchanged from the level in last year's survey.

Mike Russell, the education secretary, said the figures provided "further evidence that we have turned the corner as far as teacher unemployment is concerned".

He said: "After falling for four consecutive years, the proportion of post-probationers in full-time teaching has now stabilised."

And Mr Russell predicted that a proposed agreement between the Scottish government and Cosla may lead to work for all those qualifying next summer as well as denting existing unemployment levels.

Teachers' leaders expressed concern that opportunities would be short-lived with candidates leaving posts early as contracts increasingly become temporary ones.

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