Those who can teach, can’t teach

It’s that time of year again where I’m stuck in limbo, waiting to find out if I’ll have a job for the next school year. I wrote about this last year here but to recap very briefly:

  • In Fife the council holds ‘generic interviews’ for teachers in April. At this point they don’t know how many jobs there will be or which schools these jobs might be in.
  • By the end of May most schools will know how many teachers they need for the next school year and if they will have any vacancies. This information is passed to the council.
  • At some point before the summer holidays (this year we have been told we won’t find out until 18th June, ten days before the end of term) teachers who have attended an interview will be told the outcome. 
  • There are three possible outcomes to the interview; you are unsuccessful, you are successful and allocated a job (usually on a one year temporary contract), or you are successful but there are no suitable positions and you can go on the supply list.

The third of these possible outcomes is what happened to me last year. Luckily I managed to get a job in a local school three weeks after the start of the new school year but this wasn’t through being on the supply list or any official channels, it was simply a case of that old cliché – it’s not what you know but who you know that matters. So I’m now coming to the end of my contract and I already know that there won’t be a position for me at my current school next year. Due to a combination of factors they simply don’t need as many modern languages teachers next year.

This leaves me, and hundreds of others, to wait and hope that a job is available somewhere else. I’m pretty confident I did well in my interview – mostly because the interviewers told me so, so I’m not worried that being unsuccessful is an option but I know that the situation hasn’t really changed since last year and it’s fairly unlikely there will be a job for me anywhere in Fife. 

There are some benefits to this system both for the council and the candidates. For a start rather than applying individually where there is a job and having to (hopefully) be interviewed by each one, candidates only have to complete one application and one interview. Likewise for the schools and the council, centralising this system saves time and probably money too. However, where this system falls down is that for Secondary teachers it is entirely possible that there will be no vacancies in certain subjects and therefore the council has wasted time and money and put the applying teachers through an unnecessary process when there is no possibility of a job at the end of it. Even if there are positions available having to wait two months to find out the outcome of the interview adds more stress and worry to what is already a stressful job. 

As far as I know Fife is the only council that conducts its recruitment of teachers in this way. So while I’m waiting to find out whether I’ll have a job in my home county I am applying for any other half suitable vacancies with other councils. I have applied for two jobs in Edinburgh (both permanent contracts which is virtually unheard of in Fife) and although both posts were advertised as being for teachers of French and Spanish I applied anyway and tried to make the most of the fact that I am trying my best to gain the necessary qualifications to teach Spanish even if this will be two years away. And… I’ve already found out I’ve got an interview for one of the jobs and fingers are firmly crossed for the other one. Although I don’t relish the prospect of commuting to Edinburgh every day both schools are fairly near the mister’s office so I could drop him off on my way in and pick him up after school. And on the plus side schools in Edinburgh all finish at lunch time on Fridays!

I’m trying my best to push the worry to the back of my brain because I can’t do any more than I already am but with a wedding related credit card balance that doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller and a three week honeymoon coming up I really don’t want to be in the same situation I was last year when I found myself applying to temping agencies because I couldn’t afford not to work. Added to that now is the fact that we would really like to start a family quite soon but without a permanent job there’s no maternity leave and so finances would be stretched very tight. The other depressing thing about this is that unless I do manage by some miracle to get a permanent contract I’m going to be in exactly the same position next year and the lack of teaching jobs is a situation that’s going to be with us for a good few years yet. There aren’t as many people taking early retirement as predicted and although the universities are reducing the number of students they are allowing onto teacher training courses it will take a few years before the effects of this filter through.

So after a year of teacher training and a probation year (both funded by the Scottish government) and a further year of teaching I may yet find myself in less than a month with nowhere to teach. I’ve had plenty of doubts in the last three years as to whether I made the right decision to embark on a career in teaching. There were lots of times I didn’t really like it much and last year I was almost secretly relieved that I didn’t get a job so I could legitimately do something else. But after this year I’ve realised that actually I really do like teaching, being able to make even a small difference to a young person’s education is a very special thing. I just hope that someone, somewhere makes a decision that goes my way and lets me carry on doing it.

While I’m waiting I’ll try and keep this in mind…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *