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100 CVs for one small primary

Village school is inundated with applicants for single teaching post. Stephen Lucas and William Stewart report

When more than 100 applications for a teaching post landed on Tim Sykes's desk, the deluge of extra paperwork was, for once, welcome.

The number of applications for the Year 1 classroom teacher post was a surprise to the head of Leven Church of England primary in Beverley.

"I'm not a fan of paperwork, but this was different," said 34-year-old Mr Sykes. "It is nice to be in that position rather than having two or three to choose from like some areas of the country."

Leven primary, where inspectors rate the quality of teachers as very good overall, is in a village of around 1,000 homes approximately six miles from the East Yorkshire coast.

It has fewer than 200 pupils aged four to 11, whose levels of attainment on entry to school are above average. Most of their parents are in work and own their own homes. A year ago the school advertised a similar post and got about half the number of applications.

Mr Sykes puts the increase down to a series of awards for Leven, including Sport England's Activemark for sports and the Basic Skills Agency's Quality Mark for literacy and numeracy.

But jobs at nearby schools are also much sought-after. Beverley Minster C of E primary had 80 applications for a Year 4 classroom teacher two years ago, and at Beverley St Nicholas community primary two teaching posts each attracted more than 100 applications last year.

Bob Duerden, senior education adviser at East Riding of Yorkshire council, said: "We are used to seeing more than 60 applications for teaching jobs in East Riding, but 100 is unusual.

"Leven primary has a lot going for it though. It's a small school in a nice area."

The downside is that funding for the workforce agreement and falling rolls mean some East Riding schools are having to let staff go, he said.

Elsewhere in the country schools are struggling to recruit staff - or to hold on to those already in post.

John Howson, of Education Data Surveys, said that while falling rolls meant primary teaching jobs in many areas were hard to come by, increasing numbers of retiring heads meant schools faced the opposite problem in filling leadership positions. Headteacher vacancies were continuing to break records, with the latest figures showing that the number of posts advertised was up by more than a quarter compared to two years ago. In the first four months of the year there were 1,512 headship vacancies,up from 1,501 during the same period last year and from 1,199 in 2003, he said.

Sylvia Morris, head of the Cathedral school of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, in Southwark, south London, blames the cost of travel and housing in the capital for the expected loss of five of her 10 teachers in July.

She thinks the rise in the congestion charge from pound;5 to pound;8 from July will make things worse. "Teachers should receive the same reduction as other key workers," she said. "Public transport is not cheap or reliable.

It is smelly, sweaty and you get squashed in like a sardine and some of us don't want to do that day in day out."

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