NEW teachers are increasingly being employed on temporary contracts, sparking warnings over the casualisation of the profession in Scottish schools.

A new survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) found the number of newly-qualified teachers securing full-time temporary employment this year was 34% – up from 25% the previous year.

Last night unions expressed concerns about the apparent growth in short-term and temporary contracts, although they wel- comed an increase in the overall number of probationer teachers getting full-time permanent jobs from 20% last year to 25%.

The figures also showed the proportion of new teachers unemployed is 12% – down from 16% in 2011.

Last year, Education Secretary Michael Russell said he was sorry thousands of unemployed teachers had been unable to get permanent posts in recent years.

In order to free up more places for out of work teachers, numbers being trained on postgraduate courses were slashed, and extra money was given to councils to increase teacher jobs.

The moves appear to be having a positive impact, but Anthony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, said there were "clearly still difficulties". In particular, he highlighted the increase in temporary contracts, which has heightened existing fears that councils met Scottish Government targets on teacher employment earlier this year by employing staff on a short-term basis. "Too many talented teachers are struggling to find employment and there appears to be a prevalence of temporary teaching contracts which cannot be good for the stability of the profession, and the consistency of teaching for our young people," he said.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said employment prospects were improving, but called for further action to provide stable employment oppor- tunities. "While the creation of new teaching jobs is welcome, the quality of those jobs must also be considered," he said.

"The marked growth in the use of temporary contracts by many local authorities is leading to the casualisation of the teaching workforce and robbing schools and pupils of the vital stability that is needed to ensure a high-quality learning and teaching experience in all parts of our education system."

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, also warned over the rise in temporary contracts, blaming uncertainty over council budgets. "Any increase in employment is welcome, but these figures still paint a very bleak picture and it is still very difficult to get full-time employment," she said.

"In some cases this will be an opportunistic move by councils to meet teachers targets while in other cases it is about uncertainty over local budgets, but this can only be detrimental to the quality of education."

However, the Scottish Government said teacher unemployment was now lower in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

Mr Russell said: "These results show that probationer teacher employment is better than in each of the last two years. The Government is determined to do all we can to help individuals who have chosen and committed to a career in teaching to be able to do just that and enable our children and young people to achieve all they can."

The recent crisis in teacher recruitment was partly caused by the SNP's policy to recruit more teachers to bring down class sizes as school rolls fell.

However, councils faced with smaller numbers of pupils decided to cut teacher numbers to save money as the full impact of the recession being apparent. At the same time, teachers who were expected to retire stayed on in post as their financial future became more uncertain.