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EDITIONS
Saturday, 24 March, 2001, 14:37 GMT
Teacher crisis the 'Everest of peaks'
Classroom scene
Teacher shortages are undermining the resilience of leadership, delegates heard
by BBC News Online's Katherine Sellgren at the SHA conference in Newport

The shortage of teachers is the Mount Everest of peaks to climb, Secondary Heads Association (SHA) President Richard Fawcett has warned.

The problem is gnawing away at the resilience of leadership teams throughout the UK, Mr Fawcett told delegates gathered at SHA's annual conference.

He said: "It is undermining the purpose of schools - to provide the highest quality of learning and teaching.


We have seen a government go from denial to an acknowledgement in the New Year that we had just avoided meltdown

Richard Fawcett
SHA President
"'Top concern' does not adequately describe it. It is the Everest amongst the peaks of concerns".

And he accused the government of hiding behind statistics which told only a partial story.

"This academic year, we have seen a government go from denial to an acknowledgement in the New Year that we had just avoided meltdown," he said.

Richard Fawcett
Richard Fawcett said the teacher shortage was undermining schools
"A plethora of sticking plaster solutions - clearly not the water-proof versions - have been proposed for the immediate, medium and longer term".

Poor pay

The government's recent announcement to boost the pay of newly qualified teachers was not enough to solve the crisis, he said.

Delegates heard him say that the recruitment pay initiatives were not strategy, merely incentives which could not make a fundamental and enduring difference.

"The leaders of schools and other staff really do deserve salary increases above that of the average professional awards."

Teachers' salaries had declined year-on-year in comparison to other professionals, he stressed.

"It is time for a complete re-think about how school and college leaders and teachers are paid, the contracts in which we all work.

"A complete re-think, not just the addition of an upper spine or fast track, but a root and branch re-think of the whole package, including the conditions of service,"Mr Fawcett said.

Crumbling morale

While the overall package, taking into account pension entitlements and job security, was not bad, many teachers felt it was "no longer worth the candle", he said.

Mr Fawcett believes the problem is likely to get worse because of the build-up of hurt among teachers blamed for society's failings.

Years of derision would take years to put right, he warned.

"I call on the government to make a new start. Cease the blame, celebrate and seek out the good".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"An embarrassment to the government"
See also:

24 Mar 01 | UK Education
24 Mar 01 | UK Education
23 Mar 01 | UK Education
23 Mar 01 | UK Education
23 Mar 01 | UK Education
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