Qualified Fife teachers left 'heartbroken' over lack of jobs

A petition has been launched calling for more teaching jobs in Fife.A petition has been launched calling for more teaching jobs in Fife.
A petition has been launched calling for more teaching jobs in Fife.
A petition has been launched calling for more teaching posts to be created in Fife, after many newly qualified teachers were told they would not be getting a job.

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie is calling on Scottish ministers and Fife Council to find a solution for the thousands of trained teachers across Scotland that now face an uncertain future.

Even though many new teachers were not formally offered a job, there was an expectation following the interview process in March that positions would be secured for the autumn.

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Fife Council says the number of primary school pupils in the Kingdom is falling, reducing the number of teachers required.

Mr Rennie has launched an online petition and written to Fife Council and the Scottish Government. One new teacher told Mr Rennie that they were “absolutely heartbroken after giving their absolute all to a school, class and families for the past year, all through a pandemic”.

Another new teacher, Leeona Graham, said she received the very abrupt and impersonal email at 7.45am on the last day of term to inform her that she had no further employment.

Mr Rennie said: “The way so many newly qualified teachers have been treated is completely unacceptable.

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“Many have been left in a dire position because of incompetent planning by both the Scottish Government and Fife Council. It is almost impossible for many of them to plan their lives or even fix a mortgage."

North East Fife MP, Wendy Chamberlain, added: “After such a difficult eighteen months for teachers, children and parents, such treatment of newly qualified staff only makes things more challenging.”

Executive director of Education and Children’s Services Carrie Lindsay responded: "In Fife we appoint teachers to permanent posts, wherever there is permanent funding. Temporary contracts, whether short or long term, are used in genuine circumstances such as cover for the absence of an existing teacher or where there is an additional requirement supported by temporary funding.

"In our primary schools the school roll is falling which reduces the number of teachers we need to employ. Also, at this time of year, staffing requirements and allocations are constantly changing, as schools anticipate and react to staffing and school roll changes. This happens every year at this time.

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"In an effort to support staff currently employed in temporary contracts, as well as our 2020/21 probationers, we took the decision to advertise our primary posts internally only. We anticipated a large number of candidates would be seeking employment and that our number of vacancies would be more limited than previous years.

“Supporting the probationer scheme is really important for us in Fife and probationers are considered, and funded, as part of our core staffing allocations in place across the authority.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Contracts are a matter for local authorities who are responsible for the recruitment and deployment of staff.

“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 3500 additional teachers and classroom assistants, funding will be provided to local authorities to increase teacher numbers by 1000 and classroom assistants by 500.”