Warning: staffing crisis will get worse

THE crisis in teacher recruitment is getting worse and is likely to cause further disruption to schools, the Office for Standards in Education has warned.

Schools are increasingly forced to rely on temporary teachers and those who are not specialists, the education watchdog said.

It looked at recruitment strategies in 17 education authorities and found 11 with difficulties recruiting and retaining good teachers.

The findings appeared to contradict the new chief inspector of schools David Bell. He told The TES last month that teacher shortages were "not in dire or desperate straits across the piste".

But an OFSTED spokeswoman said the chief inspector's comments held true, because some parts of the country remained comparatively untroubled by the crisis.

The report said: "Many LEAs conjecture that the problems faced in recruiting staff have yet to reach a peak and that even more difficulties have yet to be faced."

It found that few LEAs had coherent plans to recruit and retain teachers.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

"This stark assessment of the prospects for the autumn term and beyond surely must spur the Government into action."

The report was also critical of the funding system for councils, which it said had hampered long-term recruitment planning.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said it was fairer for authorities to receive funding that changed according to pupil numbers.

She said staffing problems appeared to be "stabilising", with the vacancy rate down from 1.4 per cent in 2001 to the current 1.2 per cent (0.4 per cent in Wales). But recruitment expert John Howson said filling the 180 maths teacher vacancies advertised in last week's TES would account for 10 per cent of the new maths teachers expected to graduate from teacher-training courses this summer.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis said a "golden goodbye" system was needed where LEAs offered retiring teachers a one-year tax-free contract working in a pool of qualified supply staff.

Recruitment and retention of teachers and headteachers: strategies adopted by LEAs www.ofsted.gov.uk

SUPPLY TALK "Teacher supply is not in dire or desperate straits across the piste."

David Bell, chief inspector of schools, TES, May 3, 2002

"Difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers are increasing. Few of the LEAs have clear policies for assuring the supply and quality of teachers. The need to resort to a series of temporary or acting arrangements is proving disruptive for schools and for children's education."

OFSTED report on recruitment and retention, June 18, 2002

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