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Fewer jobs up for grabs

The number of teacher vacancies in England has fallen for the second year running, judging by the latest government statistics.

There were 3,400 teaching vacancies in January, a vacancy rate of 0.8 per cent. More recruits and fewer pupils should push the figure down further , as should the current spending squeeze.

Vacancies in primary schools are down by more than 600, or more than 40 per cent, in just one year. They are now at the lowest level since before 1997.

However, with more primary teachers graduating this summer, the vacancies total could be below 500 next January. This would be lower than the previous best total of 762, recorded in 1994, at the height of the last recruitment boom.

Special schools are still having trouble finding staff. At 56 vacancies per 1,000 posts the rate in inner London is unacceptably high; and outer London is not far behind.

Vacancies in secondary schools, where rolls are generally rising, have only dropped from 11 per 1,000 last year to 10 this January. This is close to their record highs, despite little or no improvement in pupil-teacher ratios.

The good news is that vacancies have fallen in all subject areas, apart from IT and business studies. Nevertheless, many subjects still have vacancy levels at least double the 1997 rates.

Overall, these figures are good news for schools, parents and the Government. However, finding a teaching post in the next few years may be tougher than at any time since the mid-1990s.

John Howson is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and a director of Education Data Surveys

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