Suffolk still hit by teacher shortage

PUBLISHED: 03:00 16 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

AS winter approaches, the teacher shortage is still biting hard in Suffolk - with more than 100 posts where schools have not been able to find full-time staff.

AS winter approaches, the teacher shortage is still biting hard in Suffolk – with more than 100 posts where schools have not been able to find full-time staff.

Unions today warned there is likely to be a new crisis once the cold weather arrives, with hard-pressed teachers falling ill and a lack of supply staff.

Across the county, the latest figures show 20 unfilled posts, which are having to be covered by supply staff from day to day.

But the latest survey, carried out by the local education authority, also reveals there are another 87 posts filled by temporary appointments – because there were no suitable candidates for permanent jobs.

These temporary appointments include scores of teachers who have flown in from South Africa and other overseas countries.

The total figure for vacancies and temporary appointments represents 1.8 per cent of teachers in the county. This is similar to the position at the same stage last year – and National Union of Teachers county secretary Martin Goold today warned things are getting worse rather than better.

"With the temporary appointments, schools would not have appointed these people to these posts under normal circumstances," he said.

"It is clearly unsatisfactory that the system is having to rely on filling the gaps in this way."

He said some teachers were already going off long-term sick with stress – and claimed this was partly due to people being appointed to jobs without the right experience or qualifications.

"If last year's pattern is repeated, there will be more resignations at Christmas and teachers falling ill, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to replace them. The signs are not good."

Mr Goold said conditions for serving teachers were still worsening all the time. He said a third of trainee teachers never even took up first jobs, and many more left early in their careers.

"About 45 per cent of the profession are in their 40s and 50s and many are going to be retiring in the next 10 or 15 years."

Bryony Rudkin, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, commented: "We are doing our best in what is nationally a very difficult situation."

She said the authority was working hard to recruit teachers and also encouraging people to return to teaching after a career gap.

Suffolk was one of the most successful authorities nationally in terms of encouraging people to join the graduate recruitment scheme, she said.

The county has had success at recruitment fairs nationally, and a teachers' roadshow has also attracted a lot of interest from potential recruits.

Mrs Rudkin said: "Temporary appointments are not necessarily bad appointments. We can give support to teachers who have gone into these posts.

"I think that having teachers coming in from overseas can be extremely positive for schools, because they bring an extra dimension."

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