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Over the course of the next six weeks the scale of the staffing problem facing schools in September will finally become apparent. Now that the end of May resignation date has passed, schools will be seeking out those remaining trainees qualifying this summer who have not already found teaching posts. Some returners to the profession, plus those teachers who can be enticed from abroad, will boost their numbers. However, even these may not be enough.

During April and May The TES carried 20 per cent more notices for both primary and secondary teaching posts than over the same period last year. Indeed, the total of secondary vacancies during this period passed the 17,000 mark. Even at the start of June there were still a dozen secondary schools advertising five or more teaching posts covering almost every curriculum area.

In religious education, there were more than 100 posts advertised in one week alone, to add to the already substantial number of vacancies posted earlier in the year.

In mathematics, the situation remains dire with more than 300 posts advertised during one week, including 13 for heads of department level and a further 48 with some additional management responsibilities. Even 13 private schools were still looking for maths teachers. It is likely that many of the 250 secondaries seeking a basic grade maths teacher that week will be disappointed, even those offering the incentive of two recruitment points.

The outcome inevitably will be lessons in many subjects being taught by non-specialists, either willingly or unwillingly, as hard-pressed headteachers and timetable planners seek to plug the gaps they still have to fill.

John Howson

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