General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

 
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'Plan for the long term'

30-06-2008


30/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Graduate teachers should look to the longer term when searching for full-time work, the head of the college that trains staff for Catholic schools has said.

New figures confirmed last week that only a small proportion of those qualifying last year gained permanent employment.

The head of St Mary's University College has said, however, a high percentage eventually will go on to full-time jobs.

Principal Peter Finn said graduates faced difficulties but official surveys indicate that most St Mary's students obtain employment - although not necessarily permanent to begin with.

The most detailed source of information on employment of university graduates, Mr Finn said, was produced by the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA).

It carries out a survey six months after students leave university.

The most recent showed that of 169 St Mary's student teachers graduating in July 2007, 150 were in teaching posts on the survey date.

"Some of those are in schools in England as we find that, due to the high reputation of St Mary's, employers there, particularly those in the Catholic sector, actively seek out our students, often offering incentives to encourage them to take up posts," Mr Finn said.

"It should also be noted that a small number of graduates in teacher education opt not to go directly into teaching but to pursue further study or an alternative career in, for example, educational publishing or business management."

A separate HESA survey found that three years after graduating, most St Mary's students obtained permanent posts, with only 15 per cent still in temporary employment.

"St Mary's recognises that, given the demographic downturn in recent years, it is difficult at present for newly qualified teachers to obtain permanent teaching posts, particularly in the primary sector," Mr Finn added.

"Primary schools are now seeing an increase in the number of primary one children entering school and analysis of the latest government population projections indicate that the primary school population will increase by over 10,000 over the next 10 years.

"Thus we feel that students should look to the longer term."

Meanwhile, Mr Finn welcomed measures to provide the college with greater financial stability.

Employment and learning minister Sir Reg Empey this week announced "conversion funding" for two years to help it adjust to a new funding formula based on student numbers instead of a block grant.

"The minister has given an assurance that he and his officials will work closely with St Mary's to ensure that a way forward can be found to provide the college with a stable platform," Mr Finn said.

 

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