More teachers needed in Suffolk

WOULD-BE teachers are being encouraged to consider the profession after it emerged that dozens of posts are still unfilled throughout Suffolk.

Craig Robinson

WOULD-BE teachers are being encouraged to consider the profession after it emerged that dozens of posts are still unfilled throughout Suffolk.

But career advisors last night warned it should not be seen as the “easy way out” and that anyone applying had to be willing to make a long term commitment.

According to the Suffolk Jobs Direct website there are currently 75 vacancies at schools across the county.

Neil Bartlett, Suffolk Teacher Recruitment advisor, said with unemployment on the rise it could be an ideal opportunity for people to retrain and move into the education sector.

But he warned that while there was plenty of opportunity available for the right candidate a teaching career should not be seen as an easy option.

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He said the deadline for training courses that start in September had already passed so anyone looking to apply now would not start teaching until 2011.

“It's a long term commitment,” he said. “However, there is definitely a lot of opportunity out there for the right person.

“In the next few months I think people might look at education as a new career path. It's a pretty secure job and there are huge rewards in terms of outcomes for pupils. When you see the penny has finally dropped with children its enlightening.

“However, if people are thinking about it they do need to carry out some research to find out if it's right for them.

“There are a lot of misconceptions. Many believe it's still a nine to four job but if you talk to any teacher that will be shot down in flames. There is a huge amount of commitment.

“What we are looking for in particular are people who can really engage with children. Academically the candidate's performance might be brilliant but they need to be able to have the ability to put it across to someone who is in the bottom set.”

Mr Bartlett, who taught for 30 years, said there were particular shortages in mathematics and design technology - a picture reflected throughout the country.

“There are just not enough people doing maths degrees,” he said. “If you think that some of those then go on and teach other subjects such as psychology and business studies it all plays a part. Also, they can get higher paid jobs elsewhere - it's similar for design and technology.”

He said the picture in Suffolk was not that different to the rest of the country as teaching was a very mobile profession - with people retiring and moving on to other positions through promotions.

His comments were echoed by Janet Davies, founder of the Bury St Edmund based New Life Network, which offers free career advice to those who have been made redundant.

“If you have the right kind of attitude for being a teacher and you have been thinking about it - now is a great time to do it,” she said. “However, you need to understand the reality of what its like to be a teacher in today's environment. It doesn't suit everybody.

“You shouldn't just do it because you can't think of anything else - it's not fair to you and it's not fair to the children.

“You have got to make sure your only motivation is about wanting to be in education and understanding that people look to you for leadership, passion and enthusiasm - if you don't have those things all the other incentives won't make a difference.”

In Essex there were recently about 114 vacancies to be filled.

Last available vacancy listings at primary school level showed there were 49 jobs available, 61 at secondary level and four available in special schools.

Essex has nearly 10,000 teaching posts, so the vacancy levels represent less than 2% of the total.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said anyone wanting to find out more information should contact them for advice.

He said: “Teaching is a hugely rewarding role and Essex County Council's school workforce development team is always available to provide advice and guidance to those interested in pursuing a career in education.

“To find out more, email or call 01245 436252.”

Suffolk school vacancies

Primary: 16

Middle: 8

Secondary: 48

Special: 2

Other: 1