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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
Teacher shortages 'threaten standards'
Class
The ATL says the government must do more
A special report into the impact teacher shortages in England are having on school standards has been requested by a cross-party group of MPs.

The Commons education select committee - which is dominated by Labour MPs - said it shared the concerns of the chief inspector of schools, Mike Tomlinson, about the matter.


Much of the progress made in recent years could be put at risk if the problems of teacher recruitment and retention are not tackled in a comprehensive and innovative way

Commons education select committee
In his annual report, Mr Tomlinson said "comprehensive and innovative" solutions were necessary, as the present shortage was more difficult and more complex than previous cycles.

In a response, the select committee has asked inspectors to examine "specifically" the effect of teacher shortages in its next annual report due out in 2002.

"We share Her Majesty's chief inspector's concerns that much of the progress made in recent years could be put at risk if the problems of teacher recruitment and retention are not tackled in a comprehensive and innovative way," the committee said.

In recent months the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has introduced a range of measures designed to make the teaching profession more attractive, such as training salaries of 6,000 and 2,000 "welcome back" payments for people returning to the profession.

Boys and writing

Ofsted inspectors should also look at the effects of letting teachers take classes in subjects they were not trained in, the select committee said.

And the MPs urged the government to do more work on why boys in particular continued to perform poorly in writing at primary school.


Unless it resolves the teacher shortage crisis, and unless it gets rid of the excessive workload fuelling the crisis, the new government's standards agenda will be in jeopardy

Doug McAvoy, NUT
"We recommend that research into both the reasons for low levels of achievement and ways of tackling it should be a high priority for the government," the committee said.

General secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Doug McAvoy, said the select committee had offered a stark warning to the new government, in line with the warning from Ofsted.

"Unless it resolves the teacher shortage crisis, and unless it gets rid of the excessive workload fuelling the crisis, the new government's standards agenda will be in jeopardy," Mr McAvoy said.

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See also:

09 May 01 | Vote2001
Teacher shortages disputed
23 Apr 01 | Education
Teacher shortage pupils due back
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