Buyers' market on jobs front

The number of teaching posts left unfilled in Welsh schools has gone down, and applications per post are up, according to new government statistics.

But while the buoyant recruitment market is good news for headteachers and governors, unions warn it means many newly-qualified teachers trained in Wales are struggling to find a permanent foothold in the profession.

And there is also no room for complacency about the future supply of teachers, according to Geraint Davies, policy officer of the union NASUWT Cymru. Nearly half of teachers registered with the General Teaching Council for Wales are aged 45 or over, and thousands are due to retire in the next 10 years.

"We need to plan properly for the future and ensure an adequate supply of properly trained teachers to fill those vacancies when they arrive," he said.

Meanwhile, a recruitment expert has warned that the teaching workforce in Wales could be becoming more "insular".

Dr John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, said his latest survey of staff vacancies suggested Wales has a higher percentage of appointments going to internal candidates within schools than England.

Wales-only initiatives, such as the foundation phase for three to seven-year-olds, were partly to blame as schools looked to recruit staff already up to speed with new developments, he said.

However, just 15 per cent of posts were unfilled in Wales in 2005-6, compared with 40 per cent in London.

The government figures, for teacher vacancies in 2005 show that, despite falling pupil numbers, the amount of primary jobs advertised went up 256 to 789 compared with the previous year.

More than 96 per cent of English-medium and 97 per cent of Welsh-medium primary vacancies were filled from the candidates applying, also up on the previous year.

Applications per post averaged nearly 28 in English-medium schools and just over 10 in the Welsh-language sector. English-medium secondaries also received more applications per post overall, and filled more vacancies.

Only Welsh-medium secondary schools found it slightly harder to recruit subject teachers, with 94.2 per cent of advertised posts resulting in an appointment compared with 96.2 previously.

A few vacancies were left in maths, physics, IT and Welsh second language.

But despite receiving just 11 applications for six chemistry jobs and two for a special needs teacher, all seven Welsh-medium posts were filled.

Other data included in the provisional schools census for January 2006 show:

* there are more than 6,000 fewer pupils and 22 fewer schools;

* the number of full-time equivalent qualified teachers is up 1 per cent (328) to 27,435;

* more than 15,000 support staff in Welsh schools, up 1,070;

* average class sizes in primaries and secondaries are unchanged from last year, at 24.2 and 22.4 pupils per teacher respectively;

* pupils with statements of special educational needs continues to decline, down to 15,329 from 16,575 in January 2001;

* secondary school pupils taught Welsh as a first language is up, to 15.2 per cent;

* around 57 per cent of pupils consider themselves to be Welsh, with 27 per cent saying they are British;

* Black pupils are more likely to be entitled to free school meals (47 per cent) than white (16 per cent) or Asian (19 per cent) children.


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