‘Perfect storm’ warning over teacher shortages

Teacher with child in lab

Teacher shortages and rising pupil numbers will create “a perfect storm” for schools in England, a head teacher has told the Conservative conference.

The crisis would harm children’s education and impair efforts to raise standards, said Allan Foulds of Cheltenham Bournside School.

The president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the system was near “breaking point”.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she recognised the challenge ahead.

Mrs Morgan said the government wanted all schools “to be able to recruit high quality teachers who can deliver our vision of educational excellence everywhere, which is why we are focused on attracting more top graduates into the profession”.

She said teaching remained popular as a career, “with the highest numbers of people joining since 2008 and with 3% more people due to start postgraduate teacher training than this time last year”.

“However, we recognise that there is a challenge ahead as the economy continues to strengthen,” she said.

But Mr Foulds said recruitment levels were too low and a combination of factors could push the system “to breaking point”.

‘Lifeblood’

There are already too few trainee teachers to meet the numbers needed in government projections, according to ASCL.

A fall in the birth rate in the late 1990s will mean a “steady decline” in the population of 21-year-olds until 2022, it adds, meaning the overall pool of graduates is likely to fall, resulting in fewer trainee teachers.

Allan Foulds

The economic upturn will make it harder to attract would-be teachers, while the number of pupils under the age of 16 is set to rise by some 615,000 to 7.85 million by 2020, says ASCL.

Mr Foulds told the meeting: “There is a real danger that a system which is already under severe strain will reach breaking point and that schools will be forced to drop more courses and increase class sizes further.

“This situation puts in jeopardy the huge progress that has been made by schools and undermines the drive to further raise standards.”

He said schools in the most challenging circumstances and the most disadvantaged children would be worst affected.

“That is the last thing we need in terms of closing the attainment gap,” he said.

“Teachers are the lifeblood of the system.”

Mr Foulds said non-specialists were already being asked to teach core subjects such as maths, English and the sciences, putting government reforms at risk.

“Time is running out, and the government must get to grips with this critical issue,” he said.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Lucy Powell blamed the government for a “chronic shortage” of teachers.

“The Tories’ botched handling of recruitment and doing down of the profession has left schools struggling to cope against falling applications and the highest number of teachers quitting in a decade,” said Ms Powell.

Mrs Morgan said the government had announced a new range of generous bursaries and scholarships for next year, worth up to £30,000 tax-free, “in the core academic subjects that help children reach their potential”.

“Through programmes like School Direct and Teach First, we are helping schools recruit candidates they may have previously struggled to bring in, and our Talented Leaders initiative is also placing outstanding head teachers into struggling schools,” she said.

The Department for Education said its teacher recruitment campaign also played an important role in attracting new people to teaching and encouraging more top graduates to consider training to teach priority subjects such as maths and physics.

100 model schools to open in Odisha

The Odisha government on Monday said 100 model schools will start functioning from the next academic session (2016-17) in the state.

100 model schools to open in Odisha

“While the state government has set a target to open model schools in each block, 100 such schools will begin functioning from next academic session in the first phase,” said School and Mass Education minister Debi Prasad Mishra.

The decision was taken in a meeting here on Monday chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Mishra said a total of 1,772 employees, including 1,332 teachers, would be appointed in these model schools. The appointment process of 1,332 teachers and 440 staffers in the 100 such schools would be completed by March next year.

The model schools, meant to impart education from Class I to Class XII, will be carved out at par with the central government-run Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV), the chief minister’s Office said in a statement.

Vocational courses would also be a major part of the curriculum, it added.

Patnaik directed officials to expedite the construction of buildings and other infrastructural works to ensure that education is imparted in the model schools from the 2016-17 academic session.

The model schools, to be managed by autonomous bodies, will also have residential facilities for students.

German to be taught in Kendriya Vidyalayas as additional foreign language

German will be taught in Kendriya Vidyalayas as an additional foreign language while modern Indian languages will be taught in Germany, according to an understanding reached between the two countries today to put a lid on a controversy that had erupted about a year back.

An MoU was signed between the two countries on the occasion of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit and under the understanding, a pact will be signed between the KV and Max Mueller Bhavan to formalise the arrangement.

“German will be taught as an additional foreign language,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters here.

He added that side by side modern Indian languages will be taught in Germany.

“We have a lot of scholars who are intersted in that (learning Indian language),” Merkel said earlier during a joint media interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This marks an end to the controversy which had erupted about a year after KVs decided to stop teaching German as third language and replaced it with Sanskrit.

The governing board of KV had in its meeting on October 27 last year directed that teaching of German language as an option instead of Sanskrit be discontinued.

The new understanding is a sharp departure from the earlier agreement of 2011 between the two countries to offer German as a third language in the KVs.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani has been maintaining that teaching German was against the spirit of the three-language formula and violated the national education policy.

The KV’s decision had triggered an uproar and had threatened to derail ties between the two countries. It was criticised also by Merkel who raised the issue during her meeting with Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Brisbane in November last year.

The government, though, had announced that German would continue to be taught as an additional or hobby subject from class VI to VIII.

IIT-Dharwad to admit 250 students next year

IIT-Dharwad to admit 250 students next year
IIT-Dharwad will function from the Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI) building in Dharwad till a permanent campus is built.
BENGALURU: IIT-Dharwad, which will have 250 students in its first batch next year, is likely to be handheld by either IIT Bombay or IIT Hyderabad. Initially, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Dharwad will function from a temporary campus, sources in the Union HRD ministry said.

The ministry is fine-tuning the aspects of launching the institution, notwithstanding the demand over shifting it to Raichur. Initially, IIT-Dharwad will offer BTech in computer science and electronics and communication, given the spiralling demand for engineers in these disciplines across the country.

It will function from the Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI) building in Dharwad till a permanent campus is built.

A senior MHRD official told TOI that the intake of students will be increased in later years. “IIT Bombay or IIT Hyderabad will mentor their Dharwad sibling,” he said adding that the board of governors of IITs and the mentor IIT would look after the recruitment of professors.

On the demand for shifting the IIT to Raichur, the official said, “The site selection committee has chosen Dharwad. It has been finalised as Dharwad has the necessary facilities among the three places identified by the state government.”
The state government had identified land for IIT in Raichur (688 acres), Mysuru (499 acres) and Dharwad (500-600 acres) free from legal encumbrances for establishment of an IIT.