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Independent view

Josephine Adamson was delighted with the support she received as a probationer in an independent school.

Flexible Route Probationer, Religious Education Teacher, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh

When I talk to other teachers and mention that I work in an independent school, one of the first things they ask is whether I will still manage to qualify. Of course I will!

The experience of being a probationer in the independent sector has been surprisingly rich and rewarding. I have been very lucky as there have been 11 other probationers at St George's, and so, right from the start, there had been a very thorough programme organised for us. In school there is a development programme and out with school we attend courses organised by the Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS).

Support for probationers

Two members of staff are responsible for probationers and, as well as organising our CPD they are available if we have a query. Their organisation so far has been superb: before the academic year began, the school sent us written details of our supporter and buddy as recommended in the McCrone guidelines and we met them every week or two. During the autumn term, we had fortnightly meetings as a probationer group after school or an hour. The purpose was to discuss any issues that had arisen, support each other and do short courses together.

The school has welcomed it probationers with open arms; the staff seemed excited at the influx of new ideas and possibilities that we brought. The working atmosphere is amazingly supportive and from the beginning we were encouraged to contribute our ideas.

New ideas

Thankfully St George's is always willing to try fresh ideas so the spring term brought a new strategy. We had three full morning sessions covering topics from emotional intelligence to teaching and learning. The result has been excellent, highly productive and motivating seminars.

The security of a permanent contract

One of the attractions of working in the independent sector is having a permanent contract. Since one of the most positive experiences of teaching for me is the containing relationships between teacher and pupil, I appreciate the opportunity to continue at St George's rather than face the unknowns after the probationary period is over. Knowing that I will be able to continue teaching my pupils next year means that I am already looking at changes to the curriculum. This security has also enabled me to settle in Edinburgh since I know I can stay here as long as I wish.

Of course, it's not all a bed of roses! There is an incredible pressure to maintain academic standards here and the dedication of existing staff means long hours of work and extra-curricular activities. However, overall I feel very privileged to work in such a nurturing environment.