Acute shortages of trained teachers have led to a 50 per cent increase in vacancies for primary teachers in inner London, figures released by the government last week reveal.
The figures show that overall vacancies in the primary sector have risen from just 800, 0.6 per cent, in 1997, to 1,400, 0.8 per cent, this year. In inner London, vacancies rose from 2.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent.
"We are not providing enough primary school teachers," said John Howson, a consultant to the Teacher Training Agency. "The training situation is still terrible."
The figures cast doubt on the government's pledge last week to provide an extra 1,500 classroom teachers by September, to ensure that primary school class sizes will be cut according to the manifesto pledge.
The target for teacher training postgraduates for 1998, who will be on the employment market in June, has been reduced by the government from 4,772 to 4,423. "There is no way they can do it," said Mr Howson, "unless they use the pool of unemployed teachers."
But the government, said Mr Howson, is also not prepared to pay for the new teachers. The Department for Education and Employment has provided Pounds 22 million to supply the extra teachers, which comes to about Pounds 14,000 per teacher, far short of staffing salaries and employer costs.
The new figures also revealed that vacancies for secondary maths teachers have doubled in the last two years. In other subjects, where vacancy levels remained stable, Mr Howson said, the vacancy levels have only been maintained as the school's budgets for posts have been cut.