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Recruitment dogged by poor morale

The teacher training shortage which should be finding its way to the top of the new Education Secretary's in-tray is caused by a combination of traditional and new reasons.

The end of every recession sees a drop in recruitments as a broader range of better-paid jobs becomes available. On this occasion low teacher morale and a stream of bad publicity about the profession has turned even more graduates away.

Bucking the trend - and therefore supporting the theory - are rising applications for primary teacher training (where there is less perception of behavioural problems) and RE and PE. In both of these subjects teaching is an obvious career option, rather than an industrial alternative.

The likely shortfall in trained teachers, coupled with rising pupil numbers shown in our table below, show the makings of a real problem - especially at a time when the emphasis is on raising standards and having the best possible teachers for the job.

John Howson, chief professional adviser on teacher supply and recruitment for the Teacher Training Agency, said that unlike in previous times of shortage there was awareness of the problem early enough to tackle it.

However, some authorities believe that even if the training targets are met the new Government will find itself with a teacher supply crisis.

The Department for Education and Employment revised its targets downwards last November when it believed closing the early retirement loophole would keep many more teachers in the profession. However, so many teachers have taken their last chance to leave in their 50s this year that those targets may be wildly over-optimistic.

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