Some commentators are suggesting that schools might not want to employ NQTs for September, preferring rather to take on more experienced classroom practitioners to fill any vacancies. I can understand this view, but leaving aside the issue of whether existing teachers will want or be able to change jobs at this time, there is the more basic question about whether or not such teachers will be available even now in some subjects?
I quite understand the view that trainee teachers, especially whose long practice wasn’t completed before the closure of schools came into effect, have less experience than might be expected at the point a school would recruit them. Nevertheless, they still have more time on task than a school Direct Salaried recruit and, I suspect, in most case someone starting the Teach First programme.
For undergraduate trainee primary teachers, they almost certainly will have had the full time in schools, and should not be over-looked. After all, they started training when demand for primary school teachers was buoyant and now find themselves in a very different world.
With significant amounts of student loan debt, the most recent graduates training to be a teacher are in the worst position. Those career changes, with lower levels of loans, already partially or fully paid off, are in a somewhat better position.
So, what is to be done? With smaller classes, schools will need more teachers. Should the government fund a scheme to allow for all trainees without a post for September to be allocated to a school, at least until the end of the autumn term?
How much more would it cost for such a scheme than paying and administering benefits to these trainees that started their programmes in a time when most could have had an expectation of a teaching role at the end of their courses.
Making them supernumerary would ensure that they can keep developing their skills and practicing in schools while the job market sorts itself out. New entrants have advantages in terms of their degree knowledge, if straight from university, and may be equipped to understand the best in new technology and learning strategies.
Using these trainees as supernumerary staff also has the benefit of ensuring that if there is a second wave of the virus in the autumn, schools may have the staff to cover for absences due to other staff members self-isolating for whatever reason.
Such a scheme might also be a way of encouraging schools to re-open where there are currently concerns for the future.
Whatever the way forward, we must not abandon the current class of trainees to their fate in an uncertain world.
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