Brain drain puts schools at risk

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Lancashire’s 775 schools are facing a growing teacher shortage as pupil numbers rise and recruitment falls, says a major new report.

While only 14 full-time posts remained unfilled in the county in November last year, experts are predicting a crisis ahead unless drastic action is taken to stem the brain drain from education.

An investigation by the BBC Local News Partnership, which includes the Lancashire Post, found there were a total of 920 vacancies for full-time permanent teachers in England’s state-funded schools last year and a further 3,280 full-time posts were being temporarily filled. With a baby boom set to swell the school population to 3m by 2020 and 3.33m by 2025, there are real fears there will be too few teachers to cope with the surge.

Of the 14 unfilled vacancies in Lancashire in November, two were in South Ribble, two in Chorley, one in Preston and one in Garstang. They represented just 0.2 per cent of the total workforce. In addition there were 64 full-time posts temporarily filled.

A County Council spokesman said: “Lancashire does not have a particular problem recruiting and retaining sufficient teachers, although there are sometimes some gaps and shortage areas.

“As in the rest of the country, it can be more difficult to make permanent appointments to schools in more deprived areas. Traditionally it has always been more difficult to recruit teachers to certain subjects, including maths and science.”

“The situation in Lancashire is supported by Ofsted ratings, which rate our schools as being in the top quarter in the country. Recent Government figures also show that 92.3% of our schools are rated as good or outstanding, which is certainly testament to the teachers that we have.”