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EDITIONS
Monday, 22 October, 2001, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Shortages fears 'diminishing'
The threat of schools being forced to adopt a four-day week because of teacher shortages seems to be fading.

A survey suggests that no local authority in England and Wales is now considering such emergency timetables.

There had been fears that a lack of teachers could disrupt timetables this term, but the survey by the Press Association suggests that the recruitment problem is easing.

But within this snapshot, taken at the end of the first half term of the new school year, there are still areas where recruitment remains a problem for schools.

The survey from the Press Association found that 89 local education authorities in England were not facing difficulties. And in Wales, none of the authorities reported shortages.

But 48 authorities said they were still finding difficulty with recruitment and retention.

Warning against complacency

This survey confirms earlier reports that there were still problems with recruitment, but they were localised in terms of individual schools or within particular subjects.

A local authority such as Leicestershire has 30 vacancies - 12 in secondary and 18 in primary - and faces particular problems finding teachers for subjects including mathematics, science, English, modern foreign languages, technology and music.

At the beginning of the school year, there had been fears that a lack of teachers would disrupt the government's ambitions to raise standards in secondary school.

Unions set up helplines and there were forecasts of a deepening crisis, with schools struggling to maintain a full timetable.

But at the half-way point of the autumn term, the PA survey suggests the shortages are diminishing rather than increasing, when compared with a similar survey at the beginning of term.

The National Union of Teachers said that the improvement was a "tribute" to the efforts made by schools to find extra staff, including recruiting teachers from overseas.

And the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers warned against a false sense of security, when recruitment depended so heavily on "raiding" other countries for teachers.

The Secondary Heads Association also cautioned against "complacency" over teacher shortages.

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