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Heads are becoming younger but less Welsh

Headteachers in Wales are younger and more of them from England than last year, the latest statistics from the General Teaching Council for Wales reveal.

Newly qualified teachers registered with the regulatory body this year were predominantly under 25. Unlike their heads, however, they were more likely to be able to speak and teach Welsh.

The eighth teachers' digest, published by the council last week, showed that there were 61 fewer teachers registered in Wales than in 2000. This was attributed to school closures and mergers.

But the council said the figures bode well for the future.

The number of heads aged over 50 has fallen 5 per cent year on year, but there has been a 4 per cent hike in the number of heads who are in their forties, bucking the trend.

But traditional gender roles are not budging - there has been only a slight increase in the number of female heads this year. Less than a quarter of secondary school heads are women.

Hayden Llewellyn, deputy chief executive of the council, said: "It's great to see a larger number of younger teachers being given the opportunity to progress through the profession and build on their national professional qualification for headship by stepping into the role of headteacher.

"The fact there is now a higher number of women obtaining the NPQH should, in time, redress the balance."

But the future does not look good for Welsh-language teaching as it comes under the spotlight with the imminent publication of the Assembly government's Welsh-medium strategy for schools.

There was just a 0.5 per cent increase in the number of teachers able to speak Welsh this year compared with 2007.

In addition, there were 15 more heads and 238 more teachers registered as English this year than in 2007.

Meanwhile, science teachers are the least likely to be trained in the subject they teach. A whopping 56.9 per cent were not trained in science, with numbers of physics and chemistry teachers in a similar situation not far behind.

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