Fears over ‘teaching crisis’ in nation’s schools

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ALMOST TWO-FIFTHS of teachers are not in the classroom a year after finishing their training, sparking fresh fears about a “crisis” in the profession.

Thousands of new recruits never take up a teaching post, according to a new analysis of official figures, with the numbers almost tripling in the last six years.

The General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), Mary Bousted, claimed there is a crisis occurring right at the start of teachers’ careers, with those who should be “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” turned off by the prospect of heavy workloads, excessive monitoring and poor pay.

She told the union’s annual conference in Liverpool that it is not surprising that trainees and newly-qualified teachers (NQT) are choosing jobs outside of the profession after meeting more experienced teachers who tell them “this is no career to enter”.

According to the ATL’s analysis of Government figures, in 2011, about 38 per cent of teachers were not in teaching a year after gaining qualified teaching status - either never entering the profession in the first place or leaving after just 12 months. This is mainly fuelled by high numbers of new recruits never entering the classroom. The figures show that 10,800 of those who qualified in 2011 did not go into teaching, compared to 3,600 in 2005.

The conference also heard that children are being denied decent lessons by schools using cover staff to take the place of absent teachers. The ATL claimed individuals who are employed by schools in support roles, such as teaching assistants, should not be used as replacements for qualified supply teachers.

The union passed a resolution raising concerns about the “misuse of support staff in schools to cover for teachers at short notice and for protracted periods”. It warned these school workers, employed to support individual pupils or groups of children in lessons, are being taken away from this work to cover teacher absences for several days.

Proposing the motion, Julie Huckstep, an ATL member from Kent, said that when a teaching assistant has to take a whole class, pupils who are entitled to support do not get it.