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We've run out of teachers. As a successful school in a leafy suburb, recruitment is not usually a problem: but two staff have left us in the course of the year and there's no one out there. Advertisements produce no response; agencies laugh at us; the local education authority wrings its hands but is powerless, and word of mouth tells us everyone's in the same boat.

We start this term with our ridiculously overworked headteacher taking on more teaching and an experienced classroom assistant teaching the reception class. The children will be fine but the staff are buckling under the strain and the parents, despite mass meia coverage of the national recruitment crisis, seem to think it's all my fault.

We decided to get in first recruiting newly-qualified teachers for September - permanent replacements for our stop-gap arrangements. It cheered me up no end. Out of six applicants, we interviewed three delightful, very well-qualified young women, all of whom saw teaching as their first-choice career. Their enthusiasm, energy and optimism were inspiring. I would have loved to have employed them all.

So shop early for the next academic year. There are some bargains out there but stocks, I fear, will be limited.

Joan Dalton

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