Capital loyalty answer to crisis

9th July 1999 at 01:00
BORN-AND-BRED Londoners could be one answer to the capital's long-term teacher recruitment crisis, according to a major study.

A census of 6,000 teachers working in six London boroughs has found that more than half of those born in London planned to spend their careers working there. Teachers trained in London also showed a high level of commitment.

But more than half of those born and trained outside London planned to leave within five years. Only one in eight saw their entire careers in the city.

The findings suggest that local authorities in London should concentrate on the capital's teacher training institutions, some of whom see large numbers of their newly-qualified teachers take up first jobs outside the city.

The census was carried out in six authorities by researchers at the University of North London in an attempt to plug the gaping hole in hard data about teacher supply which has developed since local authorities pulled out of recruitment in the early 1990s. It will form the basis of on-going research to pinpoint shortages and suggest strategies to boost recruitment.

London suffers "first and worst" in teacher shortages, according to the Teacher Training Agency, which brought the university together with the six boroughs. Its vacancy rate is around three times the national average.

Schools say their biggest problem lies in retaining teachers. London's challenges and lifestyle attract enthusiastic young teachers, but many move away after a few years, driven out by stress, house prices or because they want to start a family and don't want their children to attend London schools.

Schools minister and former teacher Estelle Morris, at the launch of a website to attract teachers to the city, last week hinted at a drive for teachers to fill gaps short-term.

"The product we are selling is pretty good. Not necessarily for life, but for people that want to spend a number of years teaching in this nation's schools," she said.

The census, sent to every teacher in Hammersmith and Fulham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Islington, Lewisham and Harrow, has reinforced concerns about shortages of male and ethnic- minority teachers. There are fewer teachers from both groups in their 20s than in their 30s.

It suggested the shortage of male primary teachers could soon be matched by a shortage in secondary schools.

Ian Menter, head of the school of education at UNL, told the conference: "If current levels of intake continue, maths, traditionally seen as a male preserve, will have very few male teachers in 15 years."

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