SCOTLAND. Strathclyde, with half of Scotland's schools, has 5,000 teachers on its supply list waiting for a vacancy. Not all are secondary, but it is little wonder that Frank Reilly, the region's principal staffing officer, finds few problems filling posts.
"There are people on the waiting list in all school subjects looking for work," Mr Reilly said.
There are occasional recruitment difficulties, caused either by the specific job needs or location, but the staffing picture has seldom been better from the authority's point of view, even if supply-list teachers and graduates beg to differ. Under 10 per cent of last year's secondary graduates in Scotland were able to find a post.
Ivor Sutherland, registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland which helps to regulate entry to the profession along with the local authorities, the Scottish Office and training institutions, believes employers have been spoilt for choice. "Authorities have been able to be highly selective and been able to identify the talents and skills they want," he said.
The Government maintains there are no shortages in Scotland. But its priority subjects for teacher-training intake are music, religious education, English, maths, modern languages (including Gaelic), physics, technological education and computing. Three-quarters of the intake must be in these eight subjects.
The most acute problem in Strathclyde is finding Roman Catholic RE teachers, followed by music and technology staff, although 10 to 15 applicants still apply for each post. The expansion in modern languages has been well catered for, Mr Reilly said.
The major headache is with Gaelic-speaking secondary staff, but all authorities face this shortage. A national committee has been looking at the problem, which was exacerbated by the recruitment of Gaelic-speaking graduates when broadcasting in the language was expanding.
Strathclyde is worried about the high number of ageing technology teachers, most of whom are in their fifties. Indeed, it is the ageing profession that concerns supply planners who foresee many staff leaving within the next few years.
"We hope we can hold this together once there is a big exodus from the profession," Mr Sutherland said. "It could be a bit dicey."