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MPs to study staff shortage

The looming teacher shortage is to come under the spotlight in a House of Commons select committee inquiry.

Problems with recruitment will be examined by the education and employment select committee following figures showing dramatic falls in the number of people signing up for teacher-training courses.

MPs will also focus on the training of primary staff, especially in teaching reading.

They will examine the role of government agencies, including the Teacher Training Agency and the Office for Standards in Education, and ask whether a general teaching council - long called for by many in education and already Labour party policy - should be set up.

Earlier this year the TTA announced an extra Pounds 1.6 million for a recruitment campaign, on top of Pounds 10m last year aimed at alleviating shortages in specialist subjects.

Government figures in April showed the number of applications for places on secondary teacher-training courses had fallen by 12 per cent - 25 per cent in science and 37 per cent in physics.

This was despite a Government pledge to increase the number of trainee teachers from 20,000 to 30,000 a year over the next four years.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat education spokesman and a member of the select committee, said: "Teachers are demoralised because they are being asked to do more and more for less and less, so it is not surprising that fewer people are looking at teaching as a career.''

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