But union claims large numbers lack teaching qualifications The English Schools Foundation has received a 50 per cent increase in applications in its annual teacher recruitment drive but staff have dismissed the success, claiming that many applications are 'junk'. In the first major recruitment exercise since management imposed a 9.2 per cent cut in pay and benefits due to come into force this September, the ESF attracted 1,588 applicants for 130 jobs, compared with 1,069 for 108 jobs last year. 'We seem to have improvements in both quantity and quality of applications,' said Peter Craughwell, the ESF's communications director. 'The feeling from principals is that the field is better than ever.' Ed Wickins, principal of King George V School, said: 'We are delighted with the quality of applications for senior posts. We have been able to field six exceptional candidates for an assistant principal post. There are more serious candidates than last year.' However, Julian Harniess, chairman of the Association of Professional Teachers of ESF Schools, said: 'From what I have heard, and my own experience, the quality is junk,' he said. 'I have been in touch with other heads of department and they are saying exactly the same. We are finding people without basic qualifications in the subjects.' Similar claims have been made in the online staff forum of the Times Educational Supplement (TES). 'I've been looking through applications for our school, the number is high, but 90 per cent of them are filed straight in the bin (no teacher training or experience, wrong subject, inability to string a coherent sentence together, only one year off retirement age),' read one posting. Another said: 'Out of dozens of applicants for one job, only four actually met the basic requirements.' Union members, meanwhile, are furious that they have failed to place an advertisement in TES informing applicants about two rounds of pay cuts and low morale among teachers. The paper pulled the advert after being contacted by the ESF's lawyers. Sue Page, union representative for Island School, who dealt with TES, said the union had decided to place the advert in TES, a newspaper in Australia and the South China Morning Post because teachers recruited for the current academic year were not given any indication that a pay cut was likely. The union wanted its notice to run in TES after the deadline for applications for ESF jobs advertised in the paper. 'It was not to stop people applying but to say we would like them to know the situation,' Ms Page said. Patrick Roberts, advertising director of TES, said: 'It is not that we are being difficult to the union, but we don't run this type of advert.' The newspaper had sought a compromise, and was due to run a smaller advertisement in yesterday's issue informing applicants that they could contact the union for information about working conditions. 'What we have done is compromise because of the uncertainty of the content of the advertisement and serious concern from the ESF,' he said. 'We did get a letter from their lawyers.' Mr Craughwell said TES had contacted the ESF when it received the advertising copy. When ESF expressed its concern about accuracy, TES asked it to do so on a formal basis. 'If its factually inaccurate we can't tolerate that,' he said. Inaccuracies included the statement that by 2009, 33 per cent of responsibility allowances would be cut. Mr Craughwell said it was 33 per cent of the budget for responsibility allowances that would be cut. Morale among APTESFS teachers being at an all-time low was a statement of opinion.