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Sixth-form staff numbers boom

Curriculum 2000 has sparked a boom in sixth-form college staff numbers, according to a survey by a leading college employers' organisation.

Staff numbers increased by 8.1 per cent, a survey by the Sixth Form Colleges Employers Forum has revealed.

David Igoe, vice-chairman of the forum, told FE Focus: "If it were not for Curriculum 2000, we might well see a reduction in the number of staff going into sixth-form colleges because of the economies of scale which we are having to make."

The increase in staff numbers runs across all categories of employment. The figure for full-timers is up by 6.4 per cent, part-time permanent teachers by 5.7 per cent, full-time fixed-term contract holders by 18 per cent and part-time fixed-term contract-holders by 25.6 per cent. The overall increase is 8.1 per cent from 2000 to 2001.

Another increase in numbers is possible next year if students choose not to lighten their load. Typically, students take four AS subjects but only continue with three in the second year. There are early indications that many want to continue all their subjects.

While this is welcomed by the forum, it is concerned that the difficulty in attracting quality teachers for the first year of Curriculum 2000 will become more acute unless pay and conditions improve.

"Probably, most of the increase we have seen is due to Curriculum 2000," said Mr Ogoe. "Its introduction is effectively a two-year project.

"I think we could see staff numbers increasing again, to a lesser extent next year, if some of our students opt to carry on with four ASs in year two, as I think many will.

"It was anticipated that they would go from four to three ASs in year two, but I think the experience of doing four has encouraged many to carry on with it.

"But it has proved difficult to recruit the staff we need because, while there has been an increase in demand for staff, the number of applications for jobs is well down. Without better pay and conditions, this will always be a problem."

Recruitment was highest in the South-east, at 14.2 per cent, and lowest in the North-west at 11.3 per cent.

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