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English teaching

English has joined the list of shortage subjects that are facing recruitment problems. Numbers of trainees on PGCE courses in English, starting last September, were virtually the same as in the previous year, and below the target set by the DFEE. Vacancies for English teachers have risen to 0.7 per cent of teachers of the subject in January 2000. In The TESSHA survey last September, heads put English in fourth place, just behind maths for the number of vacancies they couldn't fill.

Between Christmas and the end of February this year The TES carried over 1,000 adverts for English teachers in the maintained secondary schools sector. There may have been as many as another couple of hundred posts advertised for teachers in independent schools an FE, in addition to literacy co-ordinators to work in LEAs. As the number of new entrants from training is likely to be under 2,000 this year, including those who have taken PGCEs in drama, it will not take many more adverts before the supply of NQTs will be insufficient to meet the demand. Schools will then have to rely either on returners or through persuading part-time staff to teach extra hours. Any school that is unsuccessful will end up with some pupils being taught English by teachers trained originally in other subjects. These 'hidden' vacancies will only show up when the DFEE conducts its next full curriculum and staffing survey in secondary schools. The effects of any shortages on pupils could be far-reaching.

John Howson

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