ANN* thought Scotland was “crying out for teachers”, but just over a year after qualifying she is about to go onto Universal Credit after struggling to find work.

The 28-year-old decided to train as a primary school teacher following a BA degree in film studies and several years working in the childcare and nursery sector. She successfully completed a one-year postgraduate course at the University of Dundee in 2019 and spent a year as a probationary teacher at a primary school in Edinburgh.

“I loved my job, I had great feedback from the head teacher and I got on well with the children,” she told The National. “But since the end of the probationary year I have not been able to find work. I am now due to go onto Universal Credit.”

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Ann said in order to get a permanent job she put herself forward along with 300 applicants for a council-run recruitment process.

She described having a 30-minute interview in front of a two-person panel, neither of whom had worked with her or seen her teach in the classroom. In April she heard back that just eight of the 300 applicants were matched with vacancies, with 70 put on a reserve list and the remaining 222 applicants rejected.

She was one of the 222: “It was just at the beginning of lockdown and I was absolutely devastated. I took it really hard. I took it as a rejection of my skills as a teacher.

“With the distance of hindsight I don’t think that is true. The two people who interviewed me had never seen me teach in the classroom and had no concept of what I was like as a teacher. They were basing their decision on a 30-minute interview. What I don’t understand is if that is the employment situation. Why are colleges accepting so many people onto PGDE courses?”

Ann said she was given new hope when Education Secretary John Swinney announced in June that all probationary teachers would get a second year of guaranteed work because of the pandemic.

“I went into the summer feeling quite positive, thinking I had another year of work to look forward to even though I didn’t know which school I would be teaching in,” she said.

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“However, we didn’t hear anything from Edinburgh Council, then we got an announcement that recruitment had stopped until we find out what John Swinney’s announcement means for the local authority and who is going to pay for it.

“I went all summer without hearing anything and then on the second-last day of the holidays, the council came back and said it couldn’t honour John Swinney’s promise. So they gave out jobs to the 70 or so people who were on the reserve list. That was another big blow.

“At that point I applied for Universal Credit. I am doing bits and pieces of supply work but because I’m on a zero-hours contract I have no security, and if we go into another lockdown all my work will disappear.

“I am now in a position where I will have to look at jobs outside teaching. I do a bit of babysitting and nanny work to make ends meet but it’s low-paid and the sort of work I was doing before I qualified. I didn’t expect finding a teaching job would be an easy ride but the last six months have been extremely difficult financially, and also to my mental health.

“There is a public impression that there’s a shortage of teachers in Scotland, but I don’t know where that is. I feel very let down by my experience.”

A council spokesperson said: “We don’t recognise the figures quoted. In line with guidance from the Scottish Government, our recruitment process is carried out openly and fairly, as budgets allow.”

* The teacher’s name has been changed as she wishes to remain anonymous.