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The missing link in recruitment

Recent reports that Education Secretary David Blunkett has complained of "one-sided presentation" of recruitment difficulties forces me to enter the debate, although as a "teacher trainer" I must remain politically neutral.

Naturally I applaud the 11,100 increase in the number of teachers in England between January 1997 and January 2001. But why has there been no mention of the increase of 163,000 pupils during the same period? Without it, simple comparisonsof teacher numbers are meaningless.

The most appropriate figure in this field is the overall pupil:teacher ratio which decreased from 18.6 to 18.4 during the period in question. It is also significant that the number of education support staff rose by more than 50 per cent (44,000) during this time. By all means celebrate success Mr Blunkett, but play fair.

Robert Bushnell

Senior lecturer in education

The Nottingham Trent University

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