Worldwide search for teacher of maths fails

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The Independent Online

A school has been forced to train its own maths teachers after an international search failed to attract any suitable staff.

A school has been forced to train its own maths teachers after an international search failed to attract any suitable staff.

John Atkins, the headteacher, has written to David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, complaining that the only candidates to come forward were so poor he "wouldn't let them walk my dog".

Mr Atkins, head of Kemnal Technology College in Bromley, south-east London, attacked the shortage of high-quality teachers coming into the profession. He said he had tried to attract staff from as far as New Zealand and Australia to fill two vacancies at his comprehensive, but with no success.

The 1,000-pupil school had advertised five times in the teachers' trade paper The Times Educational Supplement since November.

It had offered above-average salaries and help in passing the new performance-related pay threshold to fill the vacancies, created by expansion at the school.

Staff had made more than 100 telephone calls and e-mails to colleges of education to find newly qualified teachers and had tried to lure staff from recruitment agencies.

The efforts in Britain produced only six applications and Mr Atkins said the standard was very poor.

Advertising for staff in New Zealand had failed and a teacher was spending part of the summer in Australia trying to find recruits, Mr Atkins said.

Now the school is planning to train two non-teaching support staff to fill the gaps. Neil Dunn, the school's computer manager, and Jane Brown, who works supporting pupils using computer software, will start their training to become fully fledged maths teachers inSeptember.

Mr Atkins, who has also written to Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools, highlighting the school's plight, said all his fellow heads were having problems recruiting, despite high-profile efforts to increase the numbers joining the teaching profession.

Ministers are introducing £6,000-a-year training salaries for graduates from this autumn and have offered substantial "golden hellos" for staff in shortage-hit subjects such as maths and science.

Applications for teacher training have increased by 50 per cent since the training bursaries were announced in March.

But earlier this month schools in Croydon, south London, said they had been forced to send staff to Australia to seek out new recruits. Other councils, such as Newham in east London, have signed deals with developers to earmark new houses for essential staff such as teachers to combat high inner-city housing prices.

Mr Atkins said yesterday: "Recruitment is very, very difficult at the moment, especially with mathematicians. I know from all my colleagues that it is something they are having trouble with in recruiting new staff.

"I have two posts vacant and I have filled them internally by training staff who want to be teachers.

"We had six applications after the school advertised. I certainly would not want to put any of them in front of a class. I did not think they were up to it.

"I'm just looking for good mathematicians who are also good classroom teachers.

"I had no other solutions. I have to teach the national curriculum and I cannot put in supply teachers."