Too few young teachers are being taken on to balance those likely to retire in the next 10 to 15 years, suggests analysis of recruitment figures by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson of Liverpool University.
The study, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, found that two-thirds of staff were aged over 40 and one in five was over 50. Only 17 per cent are under 30.
Ministers hope proposals for performance-related pay in their Green Paper on the future of teaching will make the job more attractive to graduates.
Professor Smithers said: "Schools have been filling their vacancies, but they have been applying a sticking plaster for quite a long time. They are nearing the point where they will snap and have to make increas- ing use of supply staff. Supply teachers, however good they are, do not provide the continuity that is essential to good education. The Government understands this, but the $64,000 question is whether the reforms will attract more graduates."
The joint submission by six unions to the School Teachers' Pay Review Body does not specify a figure for the pay claim, but makes plain staff will accept a settlement only if it is above the inflation rate. The NUT has added demands for statutory limits on class sizes and a guarantee of 20 per cent non-teaching time for all staff.