Newly qualified teachers are being encouraged into their probation year “like lambs to the slaughter”, it is claimed, with many failing to secure permanent contracts.
Concerns have been raised over probationary teachers failing to secure permanent posts for the next academic year, despite a Scottish Government pledge to recruit more teaching staff.
One Dundee woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said her family now faces a financial struggle after her husband was told he would not have a permanent post next year.
She said: “My husband is just completing his probation year and was notified he was unsuccessful for a permanent post two weeks ago.
“This now means with only one of us employed we are in a deficit of our monthly expenditure and also have three children at home.
“We both feel so low, I would go as far to say that I’ve been feeling quite depressed lately.”
“We had no reason to think he’d be facing unemployment”
The Dundee mum is “appalled” at the situation and said she and her husband were led to believe there would be no issue with securing a permanent job after he completed his probationary year.
She said: “The way the teaching qualification works is that following completion of university you must complete a year probation to become fully qualified.
“We had no reason to think just a year later he’d be facing unemployment as the university sell it to the students that ‘they are crying out for teachers’ and ‘everyone always gets a job’.”
“Only seven people in Dundee were offered jobs while the others, including my husband, have been placed on the supply list which means waiting by the phone as work isn’t guaranteed.
“Each year more and more newly qualified teachers are being encouraged into probation year like lambs to the slaughter, facing unemployment at the end.”
A spokesman Dundee City Council said: “The council works hard to provide opportunities for newly qualified teachers to obtain posts.
“We do this through targeted use of the VER (voluntary early redundancy) scheme to create posts as well as advertising internally first to allow current city staff in temporary posts or staff completing their NQT year to gain permanent or full time employment.
“The number of permanent and temporary posts available as with all councils will vary from year to year.”
“I am extremely concerned”
Similar concerns have been raised in Fife and Willie Rennie, MSP for North East Fife and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said he has been contacted by a number of constituents expressing dismay over the situation.
One told him if they knew how hard it was to secure a post before they started university, they would’ve made a different choice.
Another teacher said they were promised a job in April but on the last day of the school term were informed Fife Council could not honour the offer.
There are thousands of qualified teachers stuck on short term, casual contracts and the problem is getting worse. I challenged the SNP Government, again, to fix this by making the funding they have allocated permanent. But the minister dodged the question – again! #teachers pic.twitter.com/MVugsFLDhN
— Willie Rennie (@willie_rennie) June 24, 2021
Mr Rennie said: “Back in March Fife Council promised opportunities for lots of teachers way beyond the number of roles available.
“These teachers have been let down by the authorities who encouraged them to join the profession dedicated to the nurturing of young people’s minds.
“They are now destined to spend at least the next year scrabbling around for short term contracts and supply roles.
“It is almost impossible to plan their lives or even fix a mortgage, I have been challenging the SNP Government to address this problem for months but they seem to have cloth ears and refuse to tackle the issue.”
“Firstly, and most importantly, we currently have a falling pupil roll across our primary schools.”
Shelagh McLean, head of education and children’s services at Fife Council
Fife Council said that “several factors have had an impact on the recruitment of teachers for 2021.”
Shelagh McLean, head of education and children’s services, said: “Firstly, and most importantly, we currently have a falling pupil roll across our primary schools.
“This reduces the number of teachers we need to employ to ensure that we operate our schools in accordance with the legislative requirements.
“Additionally, at this time of year, staffing requirements and allocations are constantly changing, as schools anticipate and react to staffing changes or continuing school roll fluctuations.”
“Working closely with COSLA”
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Contracts are a matter for local authorities who are responsible for the recruitment and deployment of staff.
“The Scottish Government believes that we will need all possible teaching resources as we recover from the pandemic.
“We are working closely with COSLA regarding the employment of teachers for the next academic year, and we will continue to do everything we can to maximise the number of jobs available for teachers, including permanent posts.
“As part of our commitment to recruiting 3,500 additional teachers and classroom assistants, funding will be provided to local authorities to increase teacher numbers by 1,000 and classroom assistants by 500.”