'Failing' schools face a recruitment nightmare

6th June 1997 at 01:00
The 18 schools named as failing by the Government say that they face an impossible task to recruit and retain staff, writes Frances Rafferty.

Many have had candidates for jobs drop out since the list was published. Heads have until September to improve, but many now fear losing the staff they still have.

Stephen Byers, minister for school standards, said the 18 schools had not made a significant improvement since being identified by the Office for Standards in Education.

The timing of the announcement could not have been worse for Anthony Williams, head of Upper Manor grant-maintained school in Gillingham, Kent. The Government published the list of schools on Tuesday, May 20. He had arranged interviews for a department deputy on the following Thursday and a modern language post on the Friday. None of the candidates arrived.

He said: "This has made it difficult to recruit staff, but so far my existing staff have stayed loyal."

Richard Harknett, head of Kelsey Park school, Bromley, had hoped to interview five candidates for a history post the day after the school was named. One turned up.

Alan Johnston, head of South Benwell primary school, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, finalised a shortlist for a vacancy the day of the announcement. Again, candidates pulled out, and he now has three vacancies to fill for September.

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