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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Teachers prepare for shortages
Telephone hotline
Teachers are asked for information on shortages
The stakes are being raised in the teacher shortages dispute ahead of the new term, with a union planning to set up a shortages hotline.

The hotline will invite teachers to give the union an immediate update on unfilled vacancies around the country.

And teachers will be given advice about how they should respond if they are asked to provide cover for shortages.

This will raise the prospect of further disputes over how teachers should be recompensed for extra working hours caused by shortages.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers says that it expects a further shortage of teachers in the autumn.

The hotline will help the union to gather up-to-date information from schools and to support staff who might be working in schools with vacancies.

The union will also be looking at schools where non-specialist and temporary staff are covering for vacancies.

"The extent of the recruitment and retention problem is often masked by such appointments," says the union's deputy general secretary, Chris Keates.

The NASUWT was one of the unions that took part in a joint campaign of industrial action earlier this year, which refused to provide cover for long-term vacancies.

This saw a number of schools being forced to adopt a four-day week because of a lack of teachers.

In response, the government says that efforts are being made to tackle a teacher shortage, both by offering recruitment incentives for students and allowing heads greater flexibility with pay.

"Nevertheless, we know that some schools will have problems in recruiting the teachers they need, particularly in high-cost areas such as the south east," said a Department for Education spokesperson.

"That is why our recruitment strategy has been developed to target those areas most in need," she said, including 250m to help teachers buy their first home.

The Department for Education also says that it has a "rapid response unit" which will help schools which are getting into difficulties with staffing.

"Schools who think they may be in difficulty should signal this early to their local education authority," said the spokesperson.

See also:

05 Jul 01 | Education
Teacher shortages warning to parents
08 Jun 01 | Education
Shortage warning from teachers
11 Apr 01 | Education
Teacher shortages 'will worsen'
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