Country has 'run out' of teachers

8th September 2000 at 01:00
A TESSHA survey shows that schools are finding it very difficult to fill classroom vacancies. Clare Dean reports

ALMOST 10,000 secondary teaching jobs were advertised for September, but as term started this week, at least 1,700 vacancies were still unfilled.

The statistics, from a survey conducted by The TES and the Secondary Heads Association, should make grim reading for a Prime Minister with "education, education, education" at the heart of his Government.

More than 1,600 secondary schools - almost half of those in England and Wales - responded to the survey.

Heads revealed that they were now interviewing candidates by phone in New Zealand and Malaysia.

They also reported a

generation of teachers warning pupils: "Don't follow me into teaching."

At a Dudley secondary school the post of teacher in charge of a unit for moderate learning

difficulties drew no responses the first time it was advertised, while a post of assistant bursar got 180.

"The country ran out of suitable teachers in June. The rest will now do," said a headteacher who has had regular meetings with Tony Blair at Downing Street.

It is a crisis that has been building for some time, according to recruitment analyst John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University.

And it is one which the

Government, n giving more money directly to headteachers, may be guilty of fuelling.

"When we failed to fill the number of training places it did not matter because school budgets were under pressure," said Professor Howson, who has been analysing teacher recruitment for more than a decade.

"As soon as schools were given more money under Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget it was logical that they would seek staff. But they weren't there because we weren't training them."

Ministers cannot plead

ignorance of the crisis.

Both the previous Tory and Labour governments had parlimentary inquiries into teacher supply.

Schools are so desperate now that they are telephoning each other asking for the names and contact numbers of rejected applicants that they could now interview.

Recommendations are also sought from teacher-training

colleges. One Cheshire school rang 31 institutions to ask if they had anyone suitable to teach information communication technology.

Stephen Harding, head of Eastfields in Mitcham, Surrey, said his school had always had a good field of applicants when jobs had been advertised in the past.

"This year not one single

person even asked for an

information pack, let alone made an application for three separate classroom teacher posts."

Opinion, 19

Analysis, 24

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