THE greatest challenge facing local and central government is the recruitment and retention of teachers, the new president of the Society of Education Officers said today. With three out of four councils now facing shortages, Andrew Baxter, Cambridgeshire's education director, said that the gap between challenge and disaster was narrow. He sai his most discouraging experience was "conversations with excellent young teachers who have decided after two or three years that that they have had enough and plan to leave. And do so". In a wide-ranging speech to education officers, meeting in Leeds for their winter conference, he urged ministers to create a fairer funding system.