This sphinx is no age-old mystery

9th July 2004 at 01:00
Picture a bar chart that looks like a seated sphinx in profile. Short tail, rounded bottom, long back, and large, lion-like head that tapers down to two front feet. This is the best pictorial representation of the teaching force's age profile. The tail and bottom represent the 20-somethings, the back consists of those in their 30s and early 40s, and the great head includes the disproportionately high number of teachers in their late 40s and 50s (35 per cent of Welsh teachers are over 50).

While Egypt's sphinx is famously enigmatic, the teaching one is all too easy to "read". Now that its great head has turned grey we need to begin looking for a vast number of replacements. Although falling school rolls will mitigate the effects of the departures, the General Teaching Council for Wales is right to sound the alarm. But will the politicians, focused on short-term re-election goals, act on the warnings?

We must hope that they do because the impending recruitment crisis could prove to be the biggest challenge that Welsh education has ever faced.

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