Teaching in Scotland is becoming an increasingly “casualised” profession, unions have warned, after a survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) showed only a quarter of newly qualified respondents had found full-time permanent posts six to eight months after ending their training.
The figure of 24.9 per cent in those kind of positions was a rise on the 20.5 per cent last year. However, more than a third of respondents – 34.2 per cent – were on temporary contracts, up from 25.5 per cent in 2011. New teachers who were unemployed accounted for 12 per cent of those who completed the survey, down from 16.2 per cent.
Anthony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, said: “These figures show an improving picture of the job prospects for our probationer teachers. But there are clearly still difficulties. Too many talented teachers are struggling to find employment and there appears to be a prevalence of temporary teaching contracts, which cannot be good for the stability of the profession, and the consistency of teaching for our young people. However, it looks like the figures bottomed out in 2009/10 and are now rising, which is a positive sign.”
Only 22.7 per cent of new teachers completed the survey – 623 out of a possible 2,748, and down from 42 per cent last year – and the GTCS admitted it had no way of knowing the employment status of those who declined.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said the rising number of teachers taking short-term contracts, and a decline in new teachers applying for supply work, were causes for concern. A new pay deal last year halved pre-tax supply rates to about £78 a day.
He added: “There must be concern over the apparent growth in short-term and temporary contracts for teachers. While the creation of new teaching jobs is welcome, the quality of those jobs must also be considered.
“The marked growth in the use of temporary contracts by many local authorities is leading to the casualisation of the teaching workforce and robbing schools and pupils of the vital stability that is needed to ensure a high-quality learning and teaching experience in all parts of our education system.”
Scottish education secretary Mike Russell said: “The most recent numbers of teachers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, from April 2012, were lower than in the same month in 2011. This positive trend has emerged over the past 20 months and I am keen to ensure it continues.”