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Real facts about recruitment

You are wrong to claim that "schools are losing teachers faster than they can recruit them" ("Staff crisis worsens as thousands quit", TES, May 4).

The net number of teachers in schools has risen every year from 1998 to 2001 - hence teachers are being recruited in greater numbers than they are leaving.

Official statistics for 1998-99 (the last year available) actually shows more teachers entered teaching than left it. The growth in the total number of regular teachers since then - there are net full-time-equivalent 12,600 more - show this trend has continued.

But there were also 2,400 more vacancies, indicating that there were in total 15,000 more posts.

Alan Smithers says the claim that extra funding has led to the creation of 11,000 more posts since 1998 is "frankly ludicrous", but the facts disprove him

Don't forget that vacancy adverts do not, on the whole, reflect unfilled posts, but jobs advertised for some time in the future.

In the case of heads, the number of adverts does not mean that there are large numbers of vacant headships. The number of heads' posts covered on a short-term basis was smaller in January 2001 than a year before and the number of temporarily filled heads' posts of any kind is only 650 out of 24,000 heads in schools.

Estelle Morris Minister for School Standards Department for Education and Employment, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1 Editor's note: Latest published figures from the DFEE show that around 42,900 teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales (9.8 per cent) left teaching in 1997-98 compared with 26,730 new teachers qualifying that year.

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