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19th July 2020

Science Coronavirus: Fears over future of newly-qualified teachers

Science Coronavirus: Fears over future of newly-qualified teachers


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Newly-qualified teachers have raised concerns they are not be able to get a job because of the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter to the Scottish government, 30 teachers say opportunities for permanent jobs in schools are currently limited because of the pandemic.

This comes despite calls for extra staff to be hired to help with the new blended learning model of teaching.

Education Secretary John Swinney said he was “very sympathetic” to the teachers’ position and pledged to help.

Meanwhile, SNP MSP and former health secretary Alex Neil has criticised the current plan to restart schools, claiming “it’s not blending education, it’s bleeding education”.

But national clinical director Prof Jason Leitch has insisted Scotland is not yet in a position to follow Northern Ireland in reducing the social distancing measure in schools to one metre, a move which would allow more pupils to receive face-to-face teaching.

The Scottish government blueprint for schools returning said innovative use should be made of existing teachers and staff and, where necessary, consider the role former teachers can play either by returning to the classroom.

There is a mixed picture of what will happen with probationers across the country but North Lanarkshire Council has announced all 195 of this year’s newly qualified teachers will be given full-time contracts.

The letter to Mr Swinney, signed by 30 teachers who are just finishing their probation year, said: “It is deeply worrying and upsetting that with less than a week to go until our schools officially close for the summer break – a whole batch of enthusiastic newly qualified teachers find ourselves unemployed and facing uncertainty about our futures in this profession.

“Despite being told that teachers will be required, there is a great concern that this is not the case in reality.

“Some local authorities have communicated that they will manage internally, and this creates a real sense of anxiety about what work will be available.”

Science ‘Benefit from their contribution’

Speaking on Drivetime with Fiona Stalker, Mr Swinney said he was arranging to speak with the concerned teachers.

He added: “I don’t employ teachers directly but I can be part of the solution.

“I’ve asked to speak to them urgently to make sure we can address the concerns they have, I am very sympathetic to their position because they have worked very hard to join the teaching profession.

“They are newly qualified teachers and I want to do everything I possibly can do to help because we will undoubtedly benefit from their contribution.”

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PA Media

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Pupils will get a mix of face-to-face and home learning from August

Asked about the issue at the daily briefing, the first minister said: “We need all of our talents, all of our skills, to get us through this so we will want to utilise that in education just as we will anywhere else.”

Ms Sturgeon suggested on Wednesday that schools may be able to open with “nearer normality” in August, depending on how successful efforts to suppress coronavirus have been.

Science Prevalence level

Prof Leitch said that while he does not think the science on social distancing is going to change, the prevalence of the virus can help inform decisions.

He said: “When you reach a prevalence level in the society then you will be able to make choices about that distance and about whether you can have contact with your granny.

“Everything depends on the level of the virus in the country and on having a reliable test and protect system to allow us to catch the positive cases and get them to self-isolate to reduce those chains of transmission.”


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