League tables used as guide to best jobs

Career-minded teachers are increasingly checking school league tables before applying for jobs, it emerged this week.

Some are even plotting schools' performances over a number of years to ensure they apply for posts where there is clear evidence of improving exam performance.

Although teachers stress they interpret the data in a more sophisticated way than parents - who often seek merely an overall improvement - they acknowledge the irony of using information which many did not want to be published.

One Suffolk maths teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted to scrutinising the league tables before applying for posts. Heshe said: "We're still against publication of this material. But it's been forced upon us and it's there for us to use, even though we don't take it at face value."

Evidence of this new trend was revealed last week by a TES-sponsored survey into staffing levels in secondary and primary schools.

One headteacher said: "For teaching posts applicants are far more selective than before. They refer to schools' performances, OFSTED reports and budgets before committing themselves."

Heads fear the trend could lead to worsening standards in poorly-performing schools, as they increasingly fail to attract the best staff.

Dominic Cragoe, head of Abbey Farm middle school in Thetford, Norfolk, one of the 18 schools "named and shamed" by the Government in May, is convinced teachers are now much more selective in job applications.

His school had a poor response to vacancies after prospective candidates checked Abbey Farm's key stage 2 results - among the worst in the county. Two years ago, three temporary contract posts received just three applications - all from newly-qualified teachers - where he would have expected up to 30.

At another of the 18 schools, Dulwich High School for Boys, there is similar frustration that greater selectivity by teachers is hampering improvement efforts.

Head Lloyd Marshall said he was having to re-advertise a head of science post because he had only received four applications, rather than the expected 20-30.

He said: "It's now extremely difficult to recruit effective teachers of the type that are needed to turn round this school."

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