Headlines: September 5th, 2001

There’s been a stream of last minute lobbying for the Government to take innovative action to raise the status of teachers ahead of the expected publication of the Education White Paper today (Wednesday, September 5).The wide-ranging White Paper will offer a route map for four more years of change in schools. It is expected to focus particularly on the 11-14 year-old-age group, with plans to take some of the successes in improving standards in primary schools on into secondary teaching.

But lobbying groups have been urging the Government to make the focus teachers themselves, and to be more imaginative about retaining those who are leaving the profession in droves. The General Teaching Council, the new body set up to care for the profession’s interests, points out that 40 per cent of new teachers leave within five years.

It is calling for more non-teaching time so that some of the teacher’s workload that spills over from lessons can be done in work time. It also wants flexible employment policies to retain a predominantly female workforce, and more variety built into a teacher’s career – such as work swaps with other schools or research projects.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is also lobbying for action to retain teachers, saying that many of the Government’s plans for schools rely on having a bigger workforce available.

Its report, Making Teacher Supply Boom-Proof, calls for the DfES to operate a clearing house for teacher vacancies to reduce recruitment administration for schools, further study into the reasons for trained teachers not teaching, and a re-evaluation of the management pressures on headteachers.

The White Paper is expected to address some of these concerns, in part by giving schools more flexibility about how they operate.