National lottery

13th January 1995 at 00:00
There are still job opportunities for teachers in shortage subjects, but it may be a case of first come first served for the rest. Local authority spending restrictions could mean a bleak outlook for teachers entering the profession in 1995. "There are very few vacancies and the turnover of teachers is incredibly low," says Mike Walker of the National Employers Organisation for Teachers. NEOT's annual survey paints a gloomy picture of the job market.

"We have now got a clearer picture of the financial situation. Most authorities will only be able to increase expenditure by 0.5 per cent and so there will be very little money in the system next year."

But amid such unprecedented municipal belt tightening, his message for newly qualified teachers is to not lose hope:"Don't give up. There will be fewer opportunities this year than last. NQTs will just have to try harder than their colleagues five years ago but then they probably expected that."

Traditional areas of shortage - modern languages, maths, sciences and primary reception class teachers - will once again be the best hunting grounds for first- timers.

Ivor Widdison, of the Council for Local Education Authorities, says that schools are facing "one of the bleakest financial years in living memory" but adds that NQTs, coming in at the bottom of the pay spine, may be a more attractive proposition to cash-strapped councils making appointments.

Around the country, opinion is similarly mixed. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, which took on 45 NQTs last time around, Helen Bakaszynsky at the First Teacher Recruitment Desk says: "It's early days but we hope to recruit as many as last year. Early years is a shortage area - we have expanded early years provision in the borough and we would particularly welcome applications from those teachers."

Tony Cook at the South Thames Area Recruitment Team, an independent agency which covers nine authorities south of the river, reiterates the plea from the primary sector: "A lot of schools have got rising pupil numbers and by the Department for Education's own admission, more teachers will be required, especially in early years. Good teachers of music have been hard to come by and sciences have improved but good teachers of physics will be in short supply. Finding people who are good at teaching home economics has proved difficult too."

And many schools have a perennial problem coming across quality modern language teachers.

"As long as you are good you are going to be in demand," concludes Tony Cook.

In Manchester, the search for well-qualified modern language staff has taken education personnel officer Paul Chidgey to Spain and Germany. He has just returned from interviewing graduates of Madrid University for possible employment in the North-west. "It's a question of ability rather than availability," he says.

There has been a constant demand for nursery and primary teachers which has gone on for the past seven or eight years now, and he estimates that they will be looking to fill more than 100 posts in the coming year.

"Our special shortage in Bradford is of teachers who have an ethnic minority background and the language that comes with it," says Eric Fairchild, the city's education personnel officer. But apart from that, schools in the area do not have much trouble filling vacancies, of which there are about 1,000 a year. "We judge it by the number of job readvertisements, which is practically nil." Bradford will keep newly qualified teachers informed of vacancies as they occur if they send in their details and a self addressed envelope.

Norfolk has taken on more than 200 NQTs in the past year. "There is quite a high demand here," says Glynis Ballard at the county's education department. "The biggest area of recruitment has been reception class. We do like to have newly qualified teachers, but anyone who is particularly good in teaching practice tends to get snapped up straight away," she says.

Ken Taylor, teacher recruitment officer in neighbouring Suffolk, says budget cuts in the county could have an unexpected effect on opportunities for new teachers. "The LEA is going to need to make savings and schools are going to find that there is no substantial increase in their budget. But there is a rise in pupil numbers and teachers are going to be needed - NQTs are attractive because they are cheaper." He says they still expect to appoint a substantial number after taking on some 200 NQTs over each of the past two years.

John Patey, education personnel manager in Cambridgeshire, is also being cautious: "We are not going to be using as many NQTs as last year and there is even a possibility of redundancies." He advised teacher training graduates to get their applications in early. "If we are able to make appointments it will be on a first-come first-served basis."

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