Unemployed Teachers Lack Support From Both Unions And The Government, Claims One PGCE Graduate
The unemployment landscape looks bleak. Teachers are struggling to find jobs, just like any other professionals, despite the government's drive to build more free schools and academies.
We all know the figures but what about the faces? One individual speaks to The Huffington Post UK about the daily struggle of finding a job and why the government just isn't helping.
Sarah* is a 25-year-old living in Darlington. She has been out of work since the end of her PGCE last summer and has been applying for jobs for the past year.
Despite sending off more than 50 applications, she has only been given three interviews. Part of the problem, Sarah says, is she is still not officially classed as a teacher.
"I’ve never had a teaching job, which makes things that much harder. I'm only a newly qualified teacher (NQT), so in my first job I'd need a supervisor and I feel a lot of schools are reluctant to take on that responsibility when there are experienced teachers applying for jobs.
"I've had a few interviews so far, and at each there's been at least one other person with a wealth of experience whom I know will be considered for the role before me.
"The majority of posts ask for a teacher with far more experience than I have, and the ones that are open to NQTs are flooded with applications from people in my position.
"I definitely feel there are too many qualified teachers in the jobs market."
Sarah acknowledges the jobs market in general is poor, especially in the North East. According to the graduate, more and more are choosing to study locally rather than move away, meaning there are too many newly qualified teachers and two few schools to employ them all.
Michael Gove's mission to have free schools popping up on an unprecedented scale may have filled many teachers with the hope and distant promise of employment. But, in 2010, the education secretary confirmed teachers would not have to be qualified.
"In theory, the free schools proposals should create new teaching jobs, but honestly I can't see that happening," Sarah muses.
Toby Young's free school, which opened in September 2011, is addressed by Boris Johnson
"I get the impression free schools are almost anti-schools," Sarah says. "The people who set them up want something that the local education authority can't or won't provide.
"All the talk about having ex-soldiers and religious heads teaching in free schools suggests that there won't be room for a standard teacher; there seems to be more focus on finding disciplinarians than educators."
Sarah adds in spite of "how badly" she wants to find work, she would not consider applying to a free school.
"And from what I've heard from colleagues, a lot of other teachers wouldn't either."
One thing that Sarah says she is disappointed with is the lack of support, from both the government and teaching unions.
"I haven't had any impression at all that the government are trying to help unemployed teachers."
In her local authority, Sarah is only allowed to work as a supply teacher for four terms, after which she is required to take up a full time post.
"The pressure is piled on without there being any help," she says. "At the moment I'm covering for a teacher who is on long-term sick leave, so I'm acting as the class teacher but without any of the entitlements that a full-time teacher receives.
"If I was ill, for example, I won't get sick leave, nor do I get the half-day of planning time that a teacher gets.
"Unemployed teachers are essentially left to fend for themselves."
Even the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) union admits there is not enough support for out-of-work teaching staff.
Martin Freedman, ATL’s head of legal and member services, told us the government was not doing enough to provide teaching jobs.
"Free schools are where all the money is going and free schools don’t have to employ qualified teachers," he said.
But he added: "Perhaps we should have Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for out of work teachers – either with local schools or with the TDA – to allow them to retain and improve their skills."
*Sarah's name has been changed to keep her identity anonymous.