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Staff flee boroughs slated by OFSTED

Clare Dean and Linda Blackburne report on the LEAs criticised for poor teaching of reading

The three London boroughs slated by the Government for their teaching of reading in primary schools have some of the highest turnovers of staff in the country.

Latest available figures reveal that the number of teacher resignations in Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Islington has been way above the national average.

In Southwark 16.2 per cent of primary teachers left their jobs during 1994, compared to a London average of 11 per cent and a national average of 8. 4 per cent. In Tower Hamlets 15.5 per cent of primary teachers resigned while 14 per cent did so in Islington.

The only other London authority with such a high turnover of primary staff was Wandsworth, where 14.2 per cent of teachers resigned.

The statistics from the Local Government Management Board also disclose a sharp increase from the preceding year in resignations from primary schools in the three boroughs. In 1993, 10.7 per cent of primary teachers left schools in Tower Hamlets, 8.4 per cent did so from both Southwark and Islington.

Turnover of full-time teachers is unevenly distributed across the country and in 1994 was higher in London and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the South-east.

And London suffered particularly bad problems in the late 1980s when almost a quarter of its primary teachers resigned in a year compared to a national average of 13.5.

Among the metropolitan authorities, Newcastle topped the 1994 league table of resignations at 13.4 per cent, while in the shires, Surrey had the highest turnover rate - 11.4 per cent.

Ian Lloyd, head of Highbury Quadrant primary in Islington who expects to be appointing four or five new staff in September, said recruitment across the borough was extremely difficult.

"A significant number of jobs are readvertised and sometimes you can count the number of applicants on one hand."

But despite the serious recruitment and retention problems of the Eighties in London, both Tower Hamlets and Southwark said this week they had no problems now.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets pointed out that the borough had made bids for literacy and numeracy centres under the Government's new initiative to raise standards in primary schools and that the Department for Education and Employment agreed to fund a Tower Hamlets numeracy centre but not a literacy centre.

However, just days before the controversial OFSTED report on the three London boroughs, the Government told the borough it would be given funding for a literacy centre.

A DFEE spokesman said there had been a misunderstanding - a funding decision had not been made and the Government and the borough were discussing how Tower Hamlets could link up to other literacy centres.

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