Letters Extra: A question of economics

20th June 2003 at 01:00

I have yet to start my PGCE and already I find myself compelled to write a reply to a letter in last week's TES (13 June 2003, Dave Wilcox p30).

In his letter, Mr Wilcox, starts by using the simple classical economics model, of demand and supply, to demonstrate that the labour market for teaching is in equilibrium (1,000 reported redundancies against 1,152 vacant jobs). This is somewhat naive in my view as: a) the jobs may be mismatched. A redundant primary school teacher of three years cannot go straight to a post of headteacher at an inner city comprehensive, and b) redundancies are being made nationwide, while the greater recruitment problems appear to be in the south. Redundant teachers in pound;50k houses in the North cannot simply relocate to a pound;23k job in the south, due to house price differentials.

Mr Wilcox also wagers that there will be only 500 or less redundancies this year. I'll take that wager if Mr Wilcox is prepared to calculate how many jobs are being saved by various firefighting methods such as; headteachers taking pay cuts, schools being closed for some parts of days, schools running budget deficits (consequently building debt and possible redundancies in later years) or periphary, but still needed, resources being cut. I have seen all of these mentioned at various times in your publication and on the television over the last few weeks.

I recognise the main point of Mr Wilcox's letter is the fact that education must now look to the future and I think he is right. I am just a little dubious as to the methods he uses to reach his conclusion.

Adrian Sharpe
(soon-to-be PGCE Primary at St Martin's College, Carlisle)
Carlisle

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