Headteachers fear that councils are trying to poach their best maths staff to fill adviser vacancies. Julie Henry reports..
EXPERIENCED maths and English teachers are being poached by local authorities to work as consultants, leaving classroom vacancies that could prove impossible to fill, headteachers have warned.
Local authorities need advisers to support the secondary literacy and numeracy strategies, which start in September 2001. The programme is aimed at tackling underachievement in key stage 3.
One authority is looking for six literacy and numeracy consultants. And a number of TES adverts specify that applicants should have recent experience of teaching at key stage 3.
Experienced teachers are being lured by salaries of up to pound;35,000, according to the National Association of Head Teachers. In school they would earn up to pound;31,000 as heads of department.
It is feared that staff will be impossible to replace because of teacher shortages, particularly in maths, where the number of jobs advertised in The TES doubled in the past year to 5,000.
David Hart, NAHT's general secretary, said: "Schools will be losing staff to act as literacy and numeracy advisers at a time when most schools are reeling from teacher shortages and findig vacancies impossible to fill.
"How are schools expected to meet targets when we don't have enough specialist teachers and are losing more to support the very strategy ministers are driving?" Ministers are hoping that by 2004 a higher proportion of 14-year-olds will be achieving level 5, the expected standard. The individual subject targets are maths (80 per cent), English and information and communication technology (75 per cent) and science ( 70 per cent).
At local authority level, 65 per cent of pupils should reach the standard in English and maths and at least 60 per cent in science.
Mr Hart said his union was calling for the Government to drop the targets, especially at a time when the literacy and numeracy strategies would be bedding down. About 200 schools are piloting the strategies.
A spokesman for the Department for Employment and Education said it recognised experienced subject teachers would be lost, but maintained that the problem would affect only a small number of schools.
"The department is addressing these issues in a number of ways such as the addition to the teacher-training salaries and new 'golden hellos'. Teacher-training recruitment is up by 2,000 on this time last year, the first rise since 1992."