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Monday, 26 April, 1999, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Warning over teacher recruitment crisis
Classroom with no teacher
Schools may struggle to find teachers to teach some subjects
The government is set to miss new targets for secondary teacher recruitment despite its advertising campaign, according to a headteachers' leader.

John Dunford, General Secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, said even the offer of 5,000 lump sum 'golden hellos' to some graduates coming into teaching had failed.

He said schools in England could find themselves unable to teach the National Curriculum because of gaps in subjects such as modern foreign languages.

'Teaching? Non, merci'

While more people have signed up to teach maths and science there has been a big drop in the number wanting to teach French, history and business studies.

Mr Dunford, speaking at his union's annual conference in Brighton, said 11,636 graduates had applied for teacher training courses starting in September - down from 11,890 in 1998.

The government is now two-thirds of the way through the recruiting year and is unlikely to match the 14,000 teachers it recruited last year, which was itself 5,000 short of the target.

Ministers responded by cutting the target for secondary courses starting this September to 16,800.

The government has spent 1.5m on TV and cinema adverts in an attempt to attract people - especially newly qualified graduates - into the profession.

The adverts featured numerous celebrities, including the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, naming their favourite teacher. It ended with the slogan: "Nobody forgets a good teacher".

Popular ads

While the ads were a critical success, teachers found them embarrassing and they do not appear to have solved the problem.

The so-called "golden hellos" were offered to graduates entering training in maths and science - the subjects suffering the severest shortfalls.

Half of the 5,000 is paid when they begin their teacher training course and the remainder when they take up their first post. This does appear to have had some effect.

science graduate
More graduates are signing up to teach science
The Graduate Teacher Training Registry says there has been a 24% increase in students registering for maths courses, 16% for biology, 13% for chemistry and 4% for physics.

But the increases were more than cancelled out by a 21% drop in graduates registering to train as French teachers.

Registrations for business studies courses have fallen an alarming 26% and recruitment for art is down 15% History (-10%), English (-6%) and religious education (-5%) are all down.

'Crisis cannot be underestimated'

Mr Dunford said: "The crisis in secondary school recruitment cannot be underestimated.

Unions 99
"What has the government done about it? First they reduced the targets for secondary recruitment.

"Then they expressed delight that the number of applications for first degree teacher training courses shows that primary teacher recruitment targets will be met, and that applications for post-graduate recruitment for maths and science courses have been met as a result of their 'golden hello' scheme.

"In fact, these figures mask a worsening of the secondary recruitment crisis," he said.

Lack of applicants

Mr Dunford said many schools faced crises in their language departments and he said: "You can't get someone to learn a foreign language quickly and then learn how to teach it."

Spokey Wheeler, headmaster of The Wavell School in Farnborough, Hampshire, said he had only been able to recruit to posts by offering to boost the starting pay of newly qualified teachers.

"If I am experiencing these difficulties in a school in a fairly affluent area, what is happening in the challenged inner city schools, which really do need the best teachers in the country?" he said.

See also:

09 Oct 98 | UK Education
13 Mar 99 | UK Education
07 Dec 98 | Green Paper
13 Apr 99 | UK Education
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16 Apr 99 | UK Education
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