Agency frustrates Berkshire efforts

7th September 2001 at 01:00
The government agency charged with tackling teacher shortages is refusing to support recruitment troubleshooters hired by schools and councils, writes Karen Thornton.

Caroline Lyness was taken on by Berkshire after the council's bid for a recruitment strategy manager was turned down by the Teacher Training Agency. But Mrs Lyness, who works in Wokingham, said the agency had barred her from training and national support networks.

She has missed out on key meetings, emails and circulars because she is locally funded, unlike 86 other recruitment managers, covering 97 authorities, funded by the agency. The managers' role is to set up recruitment and retention projects.

Berkshire had a 7 per cent teacher vacancy rate last term; more than two in five teachers who quit gave high housing costs as their reason for leaving. The average Wokingham house costs pound;195,000, but the local education authority is one of the lowest-funded in the country.

Mrs Lyness, 50, said she was only allowed to attend a meeting for recruitment mangers after several requests. Her boss was not allowed to go to the meeting, which they only heard about by accident from another authority.

"I fear that I am not up-to-date on all relevant information and I have to waste time every day going into the agency website looking for developments. If it wasn't for another manager forwarding emails, I wouldn't be aware of much of the information that the TTA sends out," she said.

Andy Roberts, Wokingham's director of education, said: "Having funded our own post we have been amazed to find ourselves excluded from the TTA's support mechanisms.

"I have written to chief executive Ralph Tabberer seeking his assurances that procedural changes will be made and that LEAs such as Wokingham will in future get the support they deserve."

An agency spokesman told The TES it would be consulting with chief education officers on how it could support authorities that did not haveTTA-funded recruitment managers.

He added: "We do want to share best practice and recruitment information with all LEAs, whether or not they have a manager funded by the TTA, and intend to invite them to recruitment strategy manager conferences."

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