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EDITIONS
Monday, 17 June, 2002, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
School inspectors' staffing warning
school gates
Will pupils have a good teacher next term?
Pupils could face further disruption to lessons, as a report by the schools watchdog says many education authorities are struggling to recruit and retain teachers.

The Office for Standards in Education in England found 11 of the 17 local authorities it inspected had problems finding enough suitably qualified teachers.

David Bell
The report is the first to be released since David Bell took over as chief inspector
Inspectors found schools were relying increasingly on temporary staff and those who were not specialists in the subjects they were teaching.

And the report painted a gloomy picture, suggesting shortages had yet to peak.

"Many of the LEAS conjecture that the problems faced by schools in recruiting staff have yet to reach a peak and that even more difficulties have yet to be faced," inspectors warned.

Government cash

The ageing nature of the profession - the majority of teachers are over 40 - was not going to ease the problem, the report said.

And a lack of consistent funding from the government was hindering the efforts of local education authorities to find good teachers.


Warning after warning has been given to the government

Doug McAvoy, NUT
The report is the first to be released since David Bell took over as chief inspector from Mike Tomlinson.

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said reducing teachers' hours teachers had to work and cracking down on unruly behaviour were the ways to address the situation.

"Unless the pupil behaviour issue is tackled successfully, or at least reduced in importance, I think we will be faced with this persistent difficulty that, linked to the question of teacher workload, amounts to a genuinely serious problem for the whole of the future education service," said Mr O'Kane.

Warnings

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Warning after warning has been given to the government.

"Its vacancy survey never, ever shows the full extent of the problem but this stark assessment of the prospects for the autumn term and beyond surely must spur the government into action to overcome this severe shortage."

Conservative education spokesman Graham Brady said the Labour government had presided over a collapse in school discipline and a rise in unnecessary paperwork for teachers.

"Is it a wonder that the problems in teacher recruitment and retention loom so large for schools across the country?"

More teachers

The Department for Education said the staffing situation in schools was stabilising with the teacher vacancy rate down from 1.4% in 2001 to 1.2% now.

"The fact that more teachers are working with smaller class sizes, backed up by more support staff to raise standards in our schools shows real progress in the government's strategy to recruit, retain and reward more good teachers," a spokesman said.

"There were 9,400 more teachers in our schools in January 2002 than in January 2001."

See also:

01 Apr 02 | Education
24 Jan 02 | Education
28 Aug 01 | Education
30 Aug 01 | Education
28 Aug 01 | Education
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