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Overseas staff prop up London primaries

Survey shows the capital's primary schools are "dangerously dependent" on untrained or foreign teachers. Clare Dean reports.

ONE in 10 posts in London primary schools is filled by an overseas teacher, a survey revealed this week. It shows that at least 1,000 jobs are taken by teachers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, the West Indies and, increasingly, other European countries.

A further 841 do not have qualified teacher status and despite headteachers' best efforts, at least 659 posts remain empty, the survey by the National Association of Head Teachers discloses.

The figures are based on a survey of 716 primary heads in September. If extrapolated across London's 1,879 primary schools they suggest there are 2,186 vacancies, 2,792 posts filled by unqualified teachers and 3,522 by overseas teachers. Government figures for January 2002 showed just 600 vacancies in London primaries or 2.4 per cent compared with 6 per cent in the NAHT survey.

David Hart, NAHT general secretary, said that London schools were dangerously dependent on a supply of temporary, overseas and untrained teachers.

"The picture varies from borough to borough, but the overall picture is of the nation's capital city in crisis. Many London children live in highly challenging circumstances. They need and deserve the stability of a permanent and qualified teaching force."

More than 800 schools in the capital replied to the NAHT survey.

The bulk were from primaries - 360 in inner London and 356 in outer London. On top of that, 53 secondaries and 57 special schools responded to the survey.

Of the 10,454 primary teaching posts covered, 659 (6 per cent) were unfilled, 841 (8 per cent) were filled by teachers without qualified teacher status and 1,061 (10 per cent) taken by overseas teachers.

The biggest problems with primary vacancies were in Barking and Dagenham, Haringey and Tower Hamlets, where one in 10 posts was unfilled.

The highest numbers of unqualified teachers in primary schools were in Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, and Tower Hamlets.

But the greatest number of overseas teachers working in primaries in London was in Hackney, where two out of 10 are from abroad.

International schools, TES Jobs.

PROPORTION OF OVERSEAS STAFF

Inner London primaries:

Hackney: 20.3% Tower Hamlets: 18.8% Kensington amp; Chelsea: 18.6% Islington: 17.9% Wandsworth: 17.1% Outer London primaries:

Waltham Forest: 11.8% Hillingdon: 10.3% Harrow: 9.2% Redbridge: 8.6% Hounslow: 8%

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