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Teacher shortfall continues

PUBLISHED: 18:17 06 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK'S classroom crisis is deepening, the Evening Star can reveal today - with the teacher shortage hitting harder than ever.

There are now 44 unfilled teacher vacancies in the county, which is more

than double the figure of 21 at the start of last term.

SUFFOLK'S classroom crisis is deepening, the Evening Star can reveal today – with the teacher shortage hitting harder than ever.

There are now 44 unfilled teacher vacancies in the county, which is more

than double the figure of 21 at the start of last term.

And there has also been a worrying rise in the number of temporary appointments to cover permanent positions – from 97 in September to 129 this term.

Unions today called for action to ease the crisis, but the local education authority stressed that this is a national problem and said Suffolk was

doing everything possible to recruit more teachers to work in the county.

News of the worsening local position comes just one day after chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson warned that, nationally, teacher shortages were now a "real problem" that could hit standards.

"These figures show that the situation is getting worse, not better," said Martin Goold, county secretary for the National Union of Teachers, today.

"All we are doing is just bouncing along the bottom and trying to stave off the day when children will have to be sent home."

He said the vacancies put strain on other members of staff at the schools concerned and also led to a greater shortage of supply teachers to cover for illness.

"What we keep saying the Government and the LEA need to do is to make being a teacher more attractive. They have got to look at the working conditions and the workload."

Suffolk County Council's deputy leader Bryony Rudkin said today: "These figures are a reflection of the national picture. We are doing a lot of work to grow our own teachers locally through training schemes, but those people will not show in the figures until they are trained."

She said that temporary appointments could work well and were not necessarily second best. "I would not want teachers on temporary contracts to feel their work was not valued."

Moira Jackson, spokeswoman for Suffolk's education department, said: "The level of vacancies in Suffolk is still lower than the national picture

and quite good in comparison with other authorities."

She pointed out that unfilled vacancies represented less than one per cent of around 6,000 teachers in Suffolk. "But it is still very disappointing considering how well we had done in September."

Despite the rise in vacancies, she said Suffolk was doing everything possible to attract more teachers. It runs various training programmes and attracted 245 newly-qualified teachers from across the country to teach in Suffolk schools last year.

However, despite all these efforts, it has still been necessary to fly in scores of teachers from abroad, mainly from South Africa – and the recruitment from overseas looks set to continue.

Meanwhile, posts are being advertised for next term and also for September, although it is too early to have a clear idea how many teachers will be needed.

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