Once the claims began to grow, the region hit back by introducing a points system (revised standard circular 16) and passed the buck to headteachers. If a vacancy arose and the school had used up its points, no appointment would be made until points became available and then only if filling the post was an agreed priority.
In 1995, heads were instructed not to run departments without senior staff. Yet teachers say the practice persists. The councils argue that they did not have the staffing flexibility, or the money, to make appointments and repeatedly highlighted conservation of salaries as a reason for the financial log-jam.
They cite the demise of Latin as an illustration of their difficulties. Schools had to continue to employ principal teachers of the subject if they were in post and could not transfer cash to other areas.