Fortysomethings dominate workforce
Concern has been expressed about the preponderance of older teachers, which has become more marked in recent years. By 1995, just under half of full-time men and about two-fifths of full-time women were aged 40 to 49, but there had been increases in the proportions aged under 30.
There has been continuing concern about the greater number of women in the profession, especially with a growing number of pupils coming from single-parent families with no appropriate male role model. However, while the proportion of entrants to the profession who were men fell during the 1980s from a peak of well over a third, it levelled out at just above a quarter in the early 1990s and has slowly begun to rise. The wastage rate for men under 25 has fallen sharply, from 10 per cent in the second half of the 1980s to less than 5 per cent in the mid-1990s. We welcome this improvement, although it will do little to increase the small number of them in primary schools.
The number of vacant full-time posts that schools were actively trying to fill has remained low, although the teacher unions contend that other posts are unfilled each year because schools cannot afford to fill them. Over a third of the unfilled primary vacancies were for heads or deputies, and in secondary schools some two-fifths of vacancies were for heads, deputies or heads of department.
In secondary schools, vacancy rates for computer studies, chemistry and physics were above the average, but the number of vacancies for any one subject was small. The vacancy rates, however, do not provide a full account, and there continues to be concern about teachers teaching subjects in which they are not qualified and about the loss to teaching of many of the better-qualified graduates in the key subjects of mathematics, science and modern foreign languages.
The minority retiring at normal retirement age has hardly changed. Retirements on grounds of ill health rose from 1991-92 to 1994-95 but fell back slightly in 1995-96.