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Is Howson to blame?

John Howson asks "Why did we train too many staff?" (TES, Letters, September 9). He suggests that the Teacher Training Agency (now Teacher Development Agency) and Department for Education and Skills have made a series of misjudgements about the number of primary school teachers needed in an era of prospective falling pupils rolls. One simple and obvious answer to his question is that he and others had been warning of an impending crisis in teacher supply for many years - a "recruitment time bomb" waiting to go off . Purported evidence of this general shortage of teachers peaked in 20012002, and Mr Howson was one of several witnesses to the House of Commons Select Committee urging policies to remedy the "crisis". We were in a minority when we presented a re-analysis of national figures suggesting that there was no general crisis (for example Cambridge Journal of Education, 2004, 34, 1, 103-123). This new 2005 "crisis" of too many teachers may have no more substance than the 2001 time bomb that never went off. If there are too many trainees now it is probably at least partly because that is what most commentators were demanding a few years ago.

Dr Beng Huat See. University of York. Professor Stephen Gorard. Department of educational studies. University of York

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