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Classroom crisis - no end in sight

PUBLISHED: 22:05 21 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 March 2010

TEACHERS are still desperately needed to fill the vacancies in Suffolk schools - with no end in sight to the classroom crisis.

Headteachers today told how difficult it is proving to fill the gaps, while unions warned there was no light at the end of the tunnel, blaming the national shortage.

TEACHERS are still desperately needed to fill the vacancies in Suffolk schools - with no end in sight to the classroom crisis.

Headteachers today told how difficult it is proving to fill the gaps, while unions warned there was no light at the end of the tunnel, blaming the national shortage.

Chris Edwards, head of Westbourne High School in Ipswich, said: "It is difficult, but we're managing."

He said the school was having to readvertise several teaching posts for next term at a higher salary because there had been so little interest when they were first advertised.

"We haven't got any gaps - we have made temporary arrangements but I am looking for permanent appointments."

Mr Edwards said the school had nine overseas teachers, from South Africa and Mauritius, and this situation was set to continue. "We are having to appoint teachers from overseas because that is the only source at the moment."

He felt the teachers made an important contribution but said: "It is obviously not ideal because they require a lot more help and support to get settled in, as any of us would if we went to work in a different country."

Peter Richards, head of Stowupland High School, also said: "It is still difficult to recruit teachers - extremely difficult."

He said the school was fully-staffed, but one teacher was off sick and it was proving difficult to find cover because so many supply teachers were now being employed on contract as a result of the shortage.

"At the moment I am advertising for a history teacher for the summer term and I have only had one application. A few years ago I would have expected a dozen."

Martin Goold, county secretary for the National Union of Teachers, warned that things might get worse if more teachers were struck down by winter illness. "So far we have not had a really bad flu outbreak."

He said there were still not enough teachers coming into the profession and not enough had been done to keep those who were considering leaving.

"It seems as if there is a new Government announcement every week but nothing is really changing on the ground."

At the start of last term, 21 permanent vacancies were having to be filled by supply cover in Suffolk. Figures for this term are not yet known but unlikely to be any better.

Suffolk County Council's education communications manager Moira Jackson said: "The teacher recruitment service is working really hard to tell teachers that this is a good place to come and work and we have a positive Ofsted report which should help to attract people."

She said they were organising teacher recruitment roadshows and visiting recruitment fairs, as well as organising a range of schemes to train new teachers and encourage former teachers back into the profession.

"We will continue doing our utmost to encourage people to teach in Suffolk."

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