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Which regions are most in need of new teachers?

Once again this September, as pupils around the UK returned to school for their new term, the newspapers carried headlines about the lack of school places. Education resources within the country are clearly stretched in some regions, with a number of areas predicting that there will be a large shortfall of school places in the coming years.

Southampton is just one of these. A recent BBC report revealed that there are currently 40 children in the city - which is more than an entire primary class - who were simply unable to get into the primary schools in their area. By 2014 this figure is expected to reach 750 if nothing is done, which means not only physically creating the space in which these children can learn, but also recruiting the teachers and support staff that will be on hand to help them.

Clive Webster, Director of Southampton Children Services and Learning, told the news provider: "Over recent years we've seen a marked rise in the birth rate, that coincides with less movement in and out of the city. People are staying put and it's putting more demand on the places available."

This is not an isolated problem. Across the South East education authorities are having to deal with similar issues. And Mr Webster is just one of 18 representatives from local authorities asking Education Secretary Michael Gove to help them improve the situation.

Rising birth rates in Eastbourne have also prompted school expansion plans, the Eastbourne Herald reported. There are plans to increase the size of The Haven School, which could double in capacity, and therefore more than likely double the number of teachers it requires, to cope with birth rates that have increased by 20 per cent since 2005. Matt Dunkley, Director of Children's Services at East Sussex County, told the news provider: "The school is very popular and is regularly oversubscribed. For September 2010 there were 65 first preferences (121 overall) for the 30 published places available."

Further evidence of the extent of the problem was presented in a Whitehall report which was obtained by the Daily Telegraph. The report suggested that some councils could have to boost places by 20 per cent in the coming years to cope with the increase in demand.

Regions particularly affected by the issue include London, Bristol, Coventry, Slough, Wokingham, Leicester, Luton and Plymouth. The capital will bear the brunt of extra demand but the report paints a picture which suggests there are very few regions of the country which will be unaffected. Lewisham and Barking and Dagenham have been warned that they should prepare for pupil increases of more than 20 per cent, and as a consequence are also likely to be advertising large numbers of teaching jobs. The newspaper cites figures from the report which suggest that 17 of the 33 London boroughs will be forced to boost their places by between ten and 20 per cent.

Education Minister and Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather, said: "It's a problem that's common across London and it's going to get worse because it's particularly acute in the primary sector, and of course, as children move through the system, we've got this bulge of children without adequate school places."

Further pressure is likely to be placed on the UK's education system though immigration, offering opportunities for specialist teaching jobs helping children who do not speak English as a first language. A recent report by MigrantWatch suggested that more than half a million school places will be needed in the next five years for the children of immigrants who moved to the country since 1998. This figure will reach one million in the next ten years, if current immigration trends continue.

Producing figures which it claims are based on official population projections, the report stated that by 2033 the UK will need 4,000 more schools, and the 55,000 teachers needed to staff them.
Tim Finch, Head of Migration at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told the BBC that the figures are a "guesstimate" and are based on the assumption that all the children will stay in education for the maximum level of time.

The figures included children whose fathers were born in the UK, but mothers were born abroad. However, even if these figures are halved, coupled with rising birth rates, it shows that many more places will be needed in the coming years. While this will present challenges for education authorities, it will also undoubtedly present opportunities for those looking to enter the teaching profession.

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