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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 17:54 GMT
Special offer to English teachers
recruitment fair
Many more people are interested in a teaching career
English teaching is in short supply in England's schools.


I know that head teachers in many schools have had a difficult balancing act over this school year

David Blunkett
It has been added to the list of subjects which offer 4,000 "golden hellos" to trainee teachers in an effort to tackle the staff shortage.

This is part of the latest government effort to get more people into teaching, as members of the two biggest teaching unions refuse to cover for vacancies.

A 200m package over three years also includes more places on courses for people changing career to become teachers, or returning to the profession.

The money was first mentioned in the Budget last week and the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has now given more details.

Welcome back

There are to be "welcome back" bonuses of between 2,000 to 4,000 to tempt people back into classrooms, perhaps after they have raised a family.

The higher payment would be for the secondary shortage subjects of maths, science, modern foreign languages, design and technology and information technology - and now English.

The education department says it intends this to apply to anyone rejoining the profession between Easter and Christmas after at least one year doing something else.

But the proposal will have to be put to formal consultation, lasting a minimum of 12 weeks, otherwise the department might get into trouble as it did in the High Court last year over the introduction of the new, performance-related pay scale.

In the meantime "we are talking about practical ways in which we can bring this in in an informal manner," a source said. "We need to have further discussions with head teachers about how we can do it."

Bonuses

Following this year's pay review, which takes effect next month, schools now have the flexibility to pay up to 5,085 as a bonus to recruit and retain staff - if they have the money.

The independent School Teachers Review Body, which advises ministers on pay levels, noted in its report: "The falling proportion of school recruitment across the country represented by returners to full-time teaching, which now accounts for some 39% of the total compared with 50% in 1992, is of continuing concern."

It added: "The pool of qualified teachers who are not currently in teaching is considerable - estimated to be up to half a million. While many may not be potential returners, a small increase in the proportion that return could have a significant impact on the position in schools."

As well as the proposed bonuses there is money for 500 more places on refresher courses for those returning to teaching.

And 570 extra places a year for mature career-changers to train in schools will take the total number of places available to 2,250 a year.

Housing or childcare help

Mr Blunkett said: "We are turning the corner on a decade of under-recruitment to teaching. With recruitment up this year and applications up 19% for next year it is clear that graduates are increasingly seeing teaching as an attractive career choice.

"But some schools still have unfilled vacancies because of past under-recruitment."

The new money could be used, he said, to help with housing, childcare or travel costs.

"Essentially these are decisions for schools, working with education authorities, and we will target resources on areas with particular problems," he said.

The areas in which schools will benefit have yet to be announced.

The Secondary Heads Association was sceptical about how many ex-teachers might be tempted to return.

"We would think that 2,000 is not enough to encourage people who have left teaching in middle age to come back. Your finances would have to be pretty dire," said the assistant general secretary, Bob Carstairs.

"The other elements seem like Nero fiddling while Rome burns."

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See also:

07 Mar 01 | Education
Teacher training applications rise
19 Jan 01 | Education
Rules eased for overseas teachers
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