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Supermarket sweep nets staff

A THURROCK comprehensive has found a novel way of beating the shortage crisis - shopping for teachers at Safeway, writes Clare Dean.

Three hours spent at the Lakeside store resulted in two permanent appointments. The shopping trip also found an art teacher for a nearby secondary and a primary teacher for the supply pool run by the unitary authority tucked between Greater London and Essex.

What seemed like a daft idea dreamed up by Maggie Sanders, deputy head of The Aveley, a 570-pupil school for 11 to 16-year-olds, has paid off. Tony Jones, headteacher, said: "Whether it's shopping for teachers at Safeway or whatever, we are not going to be beaten. It's about getting off your backside and going for it."

The recruits were a mixture of teachers working in other schools, and included teachers from Scotland, America and a nely-qualified teacher. The school started with five unfilled vacancies in September but will be fully staffed after Easter.

Previous recruitment tactics have included persuading an assistant head from London who was attending a local authority-run maths roadshow at the Lakeside shopping centre to join The Aveley.

The shopping strategy involved four pupils - wearing "Please Teach Me" badges - asking customers if they were teachers or if they knew anyone who was.

"The 11-year-olds accosted people in overalls, which raised quite a laugh," said Mr Jones. "A lot of teachers shop in Safeway in the evening."

The hit-rate during the Tuesday evening experiment was high, with 25 people accepting details of vacancies and a prospectus within two hours. However, a similar attempt at Tesco over half-term netted nothing.

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