Jobs for Probationers: A Brief Analysis

cross posted from


The GTCS Survey

Every spring and autumn the GTCS surveys post-probation teachers in Scotland to find out their circumstances. As someone who will, shortly, be one of these post-probation teachers, the surveys (and their reporting by the media) have intrigued me the past couple of years.

Job prospects for teachers in Scotland have been much discussed recently with many accounts of hundreds applying for one job. As a scientist I’m not really into the ol’ anecdotal evidence, so decided to have a look at the actual figures myself. All the data for the past few years is available on the GTCS website under “publications”.


The survey is sent to all teachers just out of their probation year. Obviously, for the results to be reliable you’d like to have as many people responding as possible. How many are responding? Below is a graph of respondents and the total number of teachers with FT permanent jobs.

This year’s response is the lowest ever (23%). It’s hard to speculate on why the number of people responding is half of what it was 3 years ago. Some may say that it’s due to job prospects improving, but the number of post-probationers in a FT permanent job is much the same now as it was in 2009.

Primary v Secondary

The media tends to quote the whole number of teachers in FT employment rather than in primary and secondary. It’s worth picking apart the two sectors as there is quite a difference in prospects.

March 2010 aside, the surveys have found that the number of secondary teachers in FT permanent employment has been well ahead of those in the primary sector: this year 41% compared to 19%.

The Herald ran an editorial today on the “casualisation of the teaching profession”, expressing concern that more and more teachers were working temporary contracts. The data above shows there has been a steady increase in temporary FT employment of secondary post-probationers in the past few years. In the primary sector the survey reports a dramatic increase in the number of NQTs in temporary employment (45% FT, 12% PT and 3% supply).

What next?

It would seem that job prospects for probation teachers are on the turn, although more are having to settle for temporary contracts. Just over 2 years ago, Mike Russell announced that teacher training places were to be cut by 57% in the primary sector and 10% in the secondary sector. The impact of that on post-probationer employment should start to be seen in the autumn 2012 survey. Could be dramatic.

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