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Secondaries in London take brunt of staff crisis

Some London boroughs are experiencing their worst secondary pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs) for almost 30 years. New statistics from the Department for Education and Skills reveal that outer-London boroughs have seen a particularly sharp deterioration in staffing.

Almost half the English education authorities that suffered a decline in secondary PTRs between January 2000 and 2001 were in London and the South-east. London still has a better secondary ratio than the national average, but the South-east's staffing figures are now worse than the English average.

Overall, secondary ratios improved in more than half of English LEAs during 2000. However, in just over 50 LEAs the ratio worsened, and in a further 16 there was no change.

LEAs in the northern half of the country saw more improvements than in either the South or the Midlands, where the picture was more mixed. North of a line from roughly the Humber to the Mersey, 38 LEAs recorded improved ptrs. Only four LEAs reported that they had worsened, while seven said that they were unchanged.

The South-west has experienced worsening ratios in recent years, but this January most LEAs recorded improvements. The region's staffing figures are, however, still worse than the English average.

John Howson John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys. Email

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