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Teachers' concern over staff levels

PUBLISHED: 04:37 10 October 2001 | UPDATED: 15:18 03 March 2010

TEACHERS have voiced fears a staffing crisis in the classrooms is far from over despite vacancies across East Anglia being filled.

A major recruitment drive in recent months has seen scores of empty posts filled across Suffolk but unions and education bosses are still describing staff shortages as "serious".

TEACHERS have voiced fears a staffing crisis in the classrooms is far from over despite vacancies across East Anglia being filled.

A major recruitment drive in recent months has seen scores of empty posts filled across Suffolk but unions and education bosses are still describing staff shortages as "serious".

Since the end of the last academic year Suffolk County Council has taken on more than 100 teachers.

There were concerns at the end of the summer term schools could be forced to offer a reduced number of subjects to children, or cut timetables to a four day week if staffing gaps were not filled.

But thousands of pupils returned to school last month with hopes any teacher shortage had been averted after the number of vacant posts dropped.

In Suffolk it fell from 145 in May, to 12 last month but teaching unions are worried they could be facing a new problem this winter with the threat of seasonal illnesses dramatically reducing teacher numbers at any time.

Konrad Machej, Suffolk secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, said although the county council had been active in recruiting new teachers, a national initiative to retain and recruit them was the only long time answer to the problem.

The union is still concerned about teacher shortages and feared some vacancies may have been filled with "unqualified" teachers who are teaching unfamiliar subjects.

Bryony Rudkin, the Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, said it was doing what it could to deal with the situation and schools were not suffering unduly compared to other counties.

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