Head cracks under strain of two jobs

7th September 2001 at 01:00
The teacher shortage is not only affecting secondary schools. Primaries - and the staff who work inthem - are also suffering. Helen Ward reports.

A PRIMARY headteacher forced to teach full-time as well as manage the school during the recruitment crisis has had eight weeks off sick.

The head, from the north-west of England, was signed off by her doctor with work-related stress.

She said: "I haven't had to send classes home but it's been at my own expense. I went off with stress through not doing that. The number-one priority is the children's education. Sending them home would be the last resort."

Just two people applied for a teaching post at her school, which has a good report from the Office for Standards in Education.

She said: "I don't think teaching is a respected profession. We don't have standing in the community any more. There are long hours, when you leave school you just haven't finished- it takes over your life.

"One teacher, who is looking for a job outside teaching, told me he seems to spend his whole time writing reports at the expense of preparing lessons." Calls for the right to a life outside school were echoed by other primary heads.

One in the South-east said: "It's not an unreasonable request. More should be done to ensure this occurs or in a few more years, there will be no teachers left."

Last week, The TES revealed that secondary heads were unhappy with one in five appointments; the concern is repeated in primary schools.

One south-east primary head, said: "We used to get hundreds of applications, this time we got four for three posts. Only one was in any way suitable."

Anthony Butterick, of Holy Trinity CE primary in Woking, Surrey, said: "I cannot remember the last time I had the opportunity to select from a shortlist as applications have dwindled.

"In the past two years I have had no applicants for several advertised permanent posts and this is in a school which has an excellent track record, is very well-resourced and has a very good working atmosphere."

Some heads have turned to more material incentives to encourage teachers to stay. Stephen Pye, head at Churchill Gardens primary, Pimlico, London, is investing thousands in improvements to the site manager's house, to rent it out to staff.

He said: "I'm putting accommodation together for staff by refitting the house, which will be tied to the job."

In one north-west primary five out of 11 teachers have left. The head said:

"We are inner city. Why do the other six stay? I'm trying to get out. The violence from parents and children is intolerable."

* The newsletter London Primary School Reports has found inspectors reporting recruitment difficulties in more than a third of London primaries. The information came from Office for Standards in Education reports for February and March.

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