Four ways to solve recruitment crisis

19th January 2001 at 00:00
I HAVE spent most of the Christmas holidays seeking to recruit staff for my school as we are six teachers short.

The experience has crystallised my thinking on the problems of teacher recruitment and it seems clear that the Government should address the following issues: Pay: teaching is unattractive compared to many similar occupations. It becomes even more unattractive in places where the cost of housing has shot up. One potential recruit noted that there was a "1" in front of all the property prices in the local estate agents. This put him off.

Conditions: the Government has patently avoided addressing this issue. Teaching must be the only industry that, when facing a recruitment crisis, has worsened employee conditions. Teachers want a social life and if they do not get it, they will look elsewhere. There are significant numbers of teachers, especially women, switching to part-time work so further reducing the teaching pool.

Office for tandards in Education: this continues to be a major hindrance to both recruitment and retention. Schools frequently find that if a potential teacher discovers there is an inspection looming, they will not take up a position in that school.

OFSTED will always have the "Woodhead" mark on it and as a matter of urgency it needs to be replaced by a body that supports teachers in the process of continuous improvement.

Social inclusion: teachers are now looking more and more for schools in the "leafy suburbs" rather than put up with the impact of being abused by pupils who either should be at a special school or receiving classroom support.

Both the Department for Education and Employment and the Teacher Training Agency appear to be in Titanic mode, congratulating themselves on what they feel they have achieved but not seeing the iceberg of empty classrooms they have just hit.

P K Baker 326 The Cullerns Highworth Swindon, Wiltshire

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