Letters extra: What recruitment crisis?

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Irony lost

Every day I read with increasing despair about teacher shortages and the crisis in recruitment. If there is such a shortage of teachers, why is it that I cannot get an interview?

Since September last year I have applied for 226 jobs and have yet to receive a reply, let alone an interview. I did get to visit Wiltshire on the strength of a 'phone call but there was no job there. The school wasn't prepared to pay my petrol, but were happy to quote something I said in a press release which gave the impression that there was a job which I turned down.

I am a late entrant to teaching, so a few grey hairs. Being well qualified and bringing to the profession a wealth of IT skills and experience I thought I would easily find work. I found my first job the very last week of term. It involved a considerable journey and Bamp;B every week. It proved not to be a permanent position. The school wanted an ICT teacher in post for OFSTED and once that was out of the way decided to teach the subject entirely cross-curricular. I almost completed on a new house and withdrew from that at the eleventh hour, having paid for surveys and solicitors.

My second job was, again, found on the last week of term. Just within daily travelling distance, it seemed more hopeful, with A-level and GCSE teaching. However, the school had long-term plans that I was unaware of. They recruited a senior teacher to manage ICT, signed up to the online GNVQ, which "doesn't require an ICT teacher" and left me high and dry at the end of my second year. I found a temporary term until Christmas, but since the beginning of January have been doing odd scraps of supply work. I've registered with several agencies, but they all claim that there is a considerable surplus of people looking for supply and I have yet to receive a single offer from that quarter. The supply work I have found has been from my 'phoning every school within a 40 mile radius and circulating my CV.

My subject, ICT, is supposed to be a shortage subject and I can teach it to A-level and beyond. I also have qualifications and experience which would allow me to teach several other, allegedly, shortage subjects. In my short teaching career I have never had a day off sick, but equally I have never had a single hour of INSET or additional training. I have produced ICT teaching schemes, cross curricular ICT development plans, cross curicular teaching materials, NoF training initiatives and more, but none of this cuts any ice with recruiters I suppose that there are people who are happy to depend on what work supply teaching will provide but it isn't for me.

I was thinking of finishing with an ironic statement about there now being one less teacher available, but that would miss the point. If there weren't sufficient other candidates to make up a shortlist then I could realistically expect to be shortlisted occasionally. Whenever I've checked with schools to find out why I didn't make it they always say out that there were dozens of other candidates to choose from.
That doesn't sound like a shortage to me.

Former ICT teacher
East Midlands
Name and address supplied

Ready and willing

I have a B.Ed (1979) from Canada and a degree in Theology (1974) from Southampton University. I have been trying to get schools, especially in the Surrey area, to hire me as an RE trainee teacher under the Graduate Training Programme as I don't automatically have QTS and my teaching career has been scanty. So far only one school has offered me a job but unfortunately the school was too far away.

I cannot supply teach because I can only provide one recent school reference though I can supply non school references. I also have an LL.B, some IT skills and a reasonable knowledge of history.

I therefore sit at home, ready, willing and able to teach while not that far from me some schools are on a four-day week because of shortages but I, alas, cannot help.

Sue Brown
27 Bray Rd
Stoke D'Abernon
KT11 3HZnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Teacher qualifications

For some time, I have read articles in the local papers bewailing the lack of teachers in Kent with considerable cynicism. I was interested to see that your article on refugee teachers (TES, January 26) puts the blame for our current lack of teachers where it should lie -- with short-sighted legislation which bars people who could teach, from teaching.

I have suffered this phenomenon for some time. I am not a refugee, simply someone who does not have a recognised teaching qualification, but does have both a first and a post-graduate degree. I have taught as a supply teacher and my help has been welcomed. Unfortunately, my personal circumstances are such that I cannot make a living from the uncertainty of supply work.

Last year, I applied to take the PGCE, giving a reference from a well respected local headteacher. My application was rejected on the specious grounds that my first degree was modular, therefore I did not have 100 per cent background in any one subject (notwithstanding that I had recently been teaching subjects from two of the modules to the above headteacher's complete satisfaction!).

Should you think that this reaction is unusual, a friend's daughter has a degree in Sports Science. She recently applied to take a PGCE. She was also rejected. The reason? She did not have an Honours degree! She has now returned to college to add an Honours option to her previous degree. Many young people in her circumstances simply could not afford to take on this extra university year and would, no doubt, later be seen joining the unemployment queue.

Whilst supply teaching, I met a colleague born and brought up in the country then called Rhodesia. He and his future wife had both trained as teachers there, and had qualified with an external degree from the University of London. When they came to England, both were informed that they would have to take the PGCE if they wished to teach here. They (quite reasonably) objected that a degree from London University was a higher qualification than a PGCE, but, they were informed, the rules could not be broken. They had to take the PGCE. My colleague did so and now teaches. His wife refused to demean herself and now has a much higher paid position in the private sector.

Given these three very local examples, it seems to me that there must be many more people in the same position as myself, my friend's daughter or my Rhodesian colleagues. Therefore, logically, I must assume that this so-called "crisis in teaching" is due almost solely to a rigid adherence, by schools and education authorities, to legislation which is designed to be exclusive, rather than inclusive.

I bought the TES specifically in order to find out whether my qualifications would be acceptable to independent schools. I shall be extremely interested in the replies I receive from these schools!

Dana S Adler
16a Spencer Flats
Churchill Avenue
ME5 0DNnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Lack of support

I am amazed at the apparent way in which certain sectors of students wishing to train to be teachers are encouraged, whilst others are not. Indeed, from my own personal experiences, at every turn, one feels like there is no support, encouragement or even motivation to continue!!

After working in industry for a number of years, I decided last year that the time was right for change to the profession I have always yearned for, and acted to make this happen. Since then I have had many phone calls and letters go back and forward from my LEA and various other bodies, including the Teacher Training Agency and the Department for Education and Employment and whilst they are all very quick to get you off the phone and insist they have to send you out a form, no one as yet has provided any useful information regarding any of these "incentives" or extra funding that may be available to myself.

I made the decision to go back and train to become a primary school teacher, and wanting to do the best job possible, being prepared fully, I have opted to do the full four-year course, instead of "fast track" or PGCE (my choice), but feel that perhaps for wanting to be the best prepared I can, I am being penalised, and not offered the financial help others who, in my opinion only, are taking the shortened route, which could well leave them unprepared for the huge challenges they face! I have since been accepted at a number of institutions, and so feel even more confident in what I am doing, but am becoming increasingly concerned, especially when I read so many articles detailing financial hardships for NQTs.

Really, I think I am asking if there is anyone who might be able to help and push me in the right direction as to be able to receive some of this additional funding which everyone is so keen to talk about!! What funding is available for someone going back to train as primary school teacher, doing the full undergraduate course? Indeed, other than these wonderful "loans" from LEA, is there anything?

Alex Planck
221 Birling Road
West Malling

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