COMMENT: Schools are subject to a shortage in too many areas

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Any responsible parent would like to think that they are providing the best education possible for their children.

That is clearly easier said than done, as anyone who has gone through the applications process will tell you.

And even if you do get your children into the school of your choice, the picture at GCSE level is worrying.

According to a new report by the Education Policy Institute, Portsmouth has less than 30 per cent of its teachers who are leading GCSE classes in the high priority subjects of maths, physics, chemistry, science and languages holding a relevant degree.

Yes, this is part of a wider national crisis or recruiting and retaining teachers – there have been plenty of headlines in recent years about teachers burning out and abandoning the profession.

But why should this region be so badly afflicted?

Other regions, many in the north, fare far better, with double the percentage of specialist teachers having degrees.

Portsmouth’s cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton put it down to the double-whammy of an often negative public perception of Portsmouth coupled with comparatively high property prices, which means newly trained teachers overlook it as a place to work.

Others point the finger firmly at budgetary restraints.

And those teachers tasked with learning a whole new subject before they can teach it?

As National Education Union vice-president Amanda Martin explains: ‘You have already overworked teachers trying to learn whole new content.’

It’s a downward spiral, which doesn’t appear to have any positive end in sight any time soon.

Our country’s school system is in a parlous state.

Something radical needs to be done soon, or it is the children who will suffer.