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Babies kick against roll falls

Six teachers at a west London primary are doing their bit to buck falling pupil rolls with their own baby boom.

Five of the 30 teachers at Horsenden primary in Ealing are pregnant. Hilary Jeffries, a Year 2 teacher, gave birth to a 9lb 2oz daughter, Eve, last week.

Liz Walton, headteacher, is now looking for at least three maternity cover teachers, and puts the baby boom down to "lack of stress" at her 770-pupil school. "If you have got to work, it's a very enjoyable place to be," she said.

Teachers Lisa Rout, Leonie Lobo, Jenny Radford, Kathryn Hughes and Belinda Fuggle agree. All are expecting babies within the next few months.

"This is a really nice school to work in," said Year 6 teacher Mrs Radford, 26. "It feels very calm, not pressured " Mrs Lobo, 31, puts her promotion to advanced skills teacher - if not her first pregnancy - down to the school's supportive atmosphere. The Year 4 teacher and religious education co-ordinator said: "When I got pregnant, I started to dither about being an AST, but Liz backed me up and said 'do it', and I'm glad I did now."

Nationally pupil numbers fell by 38,000 last year, 56,000 this year and are expected to fall another 50,000 to 60,000 each year for the next 13 years.

In today's TES Professor Ted Wragg warns that the falling birth rate is a "ticking timebomb" threatening the jobs of primary teachers. Falling numbers add to the funding problems facing some schools. The Department for Education and Skills has no long-term strategy to manage falling rolls, saying governors, education authorities and school organisation committees are responsible.

Professor Wragg said: "This problem won't go away. The DfES needs to think what its role can be, what local authorities can do and what support schools need."

Leadership 25

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