One in five English recruits 'not up to the mark'

31st August 2001 at 01:00
SECONDARY heads south of the border have admitted that in their own opinion one in five teachers appointed this year is unsatisfactory.

A survey carried out jointly by The TES and the Secondary Heads' Association reveals that, of an estimated 32,083 appointments made by more than 800 heads 6,269 were not reckoned to be up to the mark.

Heads also said vacancy rates have grown by a quarter to nearly 5,000 compared with the same time last year - nearly double the latest Government figures.

The results, not so far reflected in Scotland, come in the same week as Mike Tomlinson, chief inspector in England, said teacher shortages were the worst for 36 years and 40 per cent of newly qualified staff were quitting within three years.

Demos, the left-wing think-tank, warns today (Friday) that the crisis is long-term not cyclical, and urges a major overhaul of the profession (page seven).

Stopgap measures by English schools have become increasingly desperate, the TESSHA survey has found. Overseas teachers are being employed on the basis of telephone interviews and heads are recruiting people who would not have been shortlisted five years ago.

Even schools that have been relatively successful at attracting staff have been affected by large turnovers as teachers leave in pursuit of recruitment bonuses and golden hellos in other schools. One school starts with 30 new teachers.

Some schools are considering building houses on their playing-fields. Others have had to resort to paying up to pound;5,000 in incentives, amid claims of "poaching" by rival schools.

The survey does not bear out assumptions that the south-east of England faces the biggest problem: vacancy rates in Yorkshire, the Humber and the east of England are as high as those in London.

Mathematics, English, science and technology are the hardest subjects for which to find teachers. Vacancies in mathematics average one for every five schools.

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