MINISTERS should urge schools and local authorities to get together to secure cheaper online advertising of teacher vacancies, a Labour back-bench MP said in the Commons on Monday.
Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk West, criticised the cost of advertisements to hard-pressed schools, He said it was time to challenge The TES's domination of the market by encouraging schools to use the internet.
Mr Joyce, a former teacher married to a London deputy head, said one school he knew had spent more than pound;40,000 on advertising for staff in a single financial year, nearly all of it through The TES.
But in reply to the debate Stephen Timms, the school standards minister, said there were already a significant number of players in the advertising field. "Although The Times Educational Supplement remains popular for very good reasons - because of its stature, its widespread readership and coverage, and its quality - many schools have found that it is not the only potential partner that is valuable in filling vacancies."
Before intervening, he added, the Government would want to be sure it was not simply adding another website to a crowded market or undermining the prospects of existing providers. Over time the problems causing the current advertising pressures would be resolved by Government moves to improve the supply of teachers.
Bob Doe, editor of The TES, said: "As the schools minister acknowledged, the fundamental problem is the unprecedented volume of teacher vacancies this year. The TES operates in a competitive market with other jobs websites and local newspapers. Schools will use whatever they find most cost-effective. But many choose us for our wide readership, the five million hits a month on our website and more than 80,000 free email alerts every week notifying readers of specific vacancies."