Clare Dean finds resignations are now increasing at a level faster than new recruits are coming into the profession.
The number of teachers quitting the profession has risen for the third year running, a nationwide survey of resignations and recruitment has revealed.
It shows widespread problems in primary and secondary, and above-average resignation levels from local authority schools in London and the South. Department for Education and Employment officials estimate that nearly 60 per cent of the English vacancies are in Greater London and the South-east.
And figures from the Local Government Management Board for 1995 now show that turnover rates across the country are higher than those for recruitment.
It claimed there was a 8.5 per cent turnover rate, compared with recruitment of just 5.8 per cent. Turnover is defined as the number of teachers resigning from LEA schools, excluding those moving within schools, departures of supply staff, and those on secondment or maternity leave.
The shortfall comes as schools brace themselves for an influx of more than 200,00 extra pupils by the turn of the century.
Pupil projections drawn up by civil servants show the bulge will hit secondary schools in 2004 when numbers will peak at 3,578,000 - 356,000 up on today's figures.
Yet evidence from the DFEE to the School Teachers' Review Body discloses that recruitment to initial teacher training courses in secondary schools is 11 per cent short of government targets.
The biggest differences came in maths and technology, which were 21 per cent below levels set by ministers for 1994-95 and in science, down 18 per cent, and languages, down 15 per cent.
Difficulties in finding people willing to train as secondary teachers will almost certainly be compounded by rising turnover rates in secondary maths, languages, science and technology.
The LGMB survey, which looks back over the decade, shows increases in the number of full-time permanent staff leaving those subjects between 1992 and 1995.
It also discloses that more teachers are quitting early, with turnover rates up from all ages between 30 and 59 in primaries. In secondaries the only level to fall was the under-25s while the 40 to 49-year-olds remained stable.
Although the survey shows above average turnover rates in the capital, the picture is much healthier than it was during the shortage crises of the Eighties and indeed what it was in both primary and secondary schools in 1994.
The DFEE claims there were just 1,536 vacancies in schools this January, and that vacancy rates have been maintained at a record low of 0.4 per cent for the fourth year running. It said a third of the vacancies in primaries and 13 per cent in secondaries were for heads and deputies.