More staff, but not teachers;Hot Data;School management;Briefing

5th March 1999 at 00:00
More people are working in schools; but not as many of them are teachers. The past decade has been one where the money to pay for more pupils has resulted in more support and administrative staff rather then teachers. Almost all categories of support and administrative staff recorded a growth between 1997 and 1998.

The rise in nursery assistants is partly explained by the growth in nursery places following the introduction of vouchers in 1997. However, the rise may have masked some loss of jobs in the private sector as parents switched to popular state schools.

Secondary non-teaching staff numbers rose by 5 per cent between 1997 and 1998, mostly accounted for by a growth in special needs support staff and in secretaries.

The transfer of financial responsibility to schools has seen a boom in bursars. By 1998 it would appear that more than half of all secondary schools had one. With the Fair Funding changes beginning next month, numbers are set to increase further so that eventually all secondary schools will have a bursar as a member of their senior management team. In the future, clusters of primary schools might also find them useful, unless they contract out the service to either their local authority or the private sector.

One vital post missing from the table is that of information communications and technology manager. Many schools use teachers in that role, but it cannot be long before it becomes sensible to create a non-teaching post to oversee all the day-to-day issues that the increasing use of ICT will bring.

Indeed, the primary school which advertised in The TES for a deputy head with "experience of Internet and video conferencing highly desirable" (February 5) just shows how fast the world is changing.

Whether one outcome of the Green Paper will be to hasten the recruitment of non-teaching staff on the grounds that they are less expensive than teachers, only time will tell. What is clear is that the Teacher Training Agency is right to see these staff as potential professionals of the future, many of whom are already performing excellent work in schools.

John Howson is a fellow of Oxford Brookes University and runs an education research company, e-mail int.edu@lineone.net

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