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Alarm over teacher shortage

A TEACHING crisis in the Medway area is at an all-time high with a staggering one in five posts now being advertised or filled by staff who are not fully-qualified.

According to new figures, there are 140 secondary school vacancies to fill by September, while primary heads need to find 104 new teachers. But officials at the National Union of Teachers are concerned that many more positions have been filled by under-qualified staff.

Doug Macari, Medway's NUT spokesman, said: "It is a shocking figure, although not surprising given that this crisis has been building up for some years. We are extremely concerned about this for the standard and quality of education delivered to the children of Medway."

There are about 2,000 full-time teaching posts in Medway's primary and secondary schools. The NUT estimates that in addition to the advertised vacancies, there are almost 200 posts filled by instructors and overseas teachers who do not have full teaching qualifications Ð that equates to 20 per cent of all teaching posts.

Medway Council said it was not unduly concerned as the figures reflected the natural turnover of teaching staff at the end of term.

A spokeswoman said: "The predicted figures relate to posts that are likely to be advertised for the September term. They include the normal turnover rate for teaching staff Ð where people choose to move on to another role. Although the council is not complacent about the situation, neither is it unduly concerned."

Chapter School in Strood has one of the worst problems of any of Medway's schools. It is advertising for 10 new members of staff, including an assistant head, a head of technology and an assistant director of key stage four.

Temple School, Strood, has five vacancies for September. Head Neil McAree said: "The situation is certainly no better than last year. We are using incentives but the people aren't out there."

At Gillingham's Upbury Manor, head Tony Williams seeks an advanced skills teacher for the English and languages department, a head of faculty and an art and technology teacher. He said: "It hasn't got easier but I managed to appoint 24 staff last year because we expanded. You find them by persistence and hard work."

Medway Council is advertising almost 100 vacancies on its website. It has allocated £200,000 in the education budget while schools have about £500,000 for teacher recruitment.

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