ESSEX County Council has joined forces with schools in Essex in a drive to attract more teachers to the county, which may even see staff drafted in from Australia.

A strategic group, including representatives from Essex County Council, the Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex, the Essex Primary Headteachers’ Association and Essex Special School Education Trust, has been formed to explore possible new teacher recruitment strategies.

Supported by funding from the Essex Schools Forum, the group is aiming to help Essex schools recruit teachers from as far afield as Australia, as well as promoting the county to areas of the UK and Ireland where there is a known surplus of teachers. These places include Lancashire, Cheshire and Wales.

The group has also helped fund a graduate internship programme called Step to Teaching, which is being run by Essex County Council’s EES for Schools.

The scheme, which opened last week, offers applicants paid, hands-on experience in Essex schools and training opportunities before they commit themselves to a career in teaching.

Successful interns will finish the programme with a wealth of experience and be ready to embark on a teacher training programme with one of the many providers in Essex.

The recruitment group has also initiated a bursary scheme to support those on non-salaried teacher training courses in areas of the county where recruitment of teachers has proved particularly tough.

Ray Gooding, county councillor responsible for schools, said: “Essex is on a fantastic school improvement journey, with more than four in five schools currently rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.”