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There seems to be no end in sight for the boom in teaching jobs. In January 2001, The TES carried more than 11,300 such ads. This year, during the last three Fridays in January, the number was a staggering 12,000, up by more than 6 per cent. And the pace didn't abate even then. In the first week in February, there were a further 3,244 adverts.

Why are so many posts being advertised? One reason is thecontinued rise in pupil numbers in the secondary sector. This has not yet been offset by the decline in primary-age pupils so there has been no significant downturn in teaching jobs there. Another factor is that schools may have topped up their reserves to levels with which they feel comfortable, so any extra cash can be spent shopping for more teachers. Finally, the effects of the brake on early retirements,introduced in 1997, will start to unwind from this year as the 55-year-olds of 1997 finally reach the big 60 and hand in their notices.

With workload still at the top of many teachers' and policy-makers' minds and another boom in retirements soon, the demand for teachers is unlikely to abate in the foreseeable future. Indeed, it could risefurther if rising pay and falling mortgages persuade individuals to take unilateral action to restore their work-life balance.

John Howson e-mail

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