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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
2,000 bonus for maths teachers
maths lesson
Prof Smith's maths report was highly critical
The government is to offer some extra money to maths teacher trainees as one way of addressing a crisis in the subject in England's schools.

In its response to the Smith Report on mathematics education, it says trainee maths teachers should get a 1,000 premium on the normal 6,000 bursary.

And - also from 2005 - the "golden hello" for those going into schools should rise from 4,000 to 5,000.

It plans to scrap the cap on the salaries of advanced maths teachers.

This is currently just under 50,000. They would be guaranteed at least 40,000.

'Piecemeal'

The report by Professor Adrian Smith, Making Mathematics Count, published in February, had suggested paying trainees more to boost the supply of maths teachers.

The key issue is to raise the profile and esteem of mathematics
Charles Clarke
Eduction Secretary
He also said maths should be regarded as "special" and its teachers should be paid more than the norm - perhaps by 5,000 a year.

There is no such general uplift proposal in the Department for Education and Skills response, published by the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke.

Teachers' unions generally do not like differential pay.

The acting general secretary of the NASUWT union, Chris Keates, said: "Skewing the pay system in favour of one subject specialism can have unintended consequences in other areas.

"There is already sufficient flexibility in the existing arrangements to pay higher salaries and incentives.

"However, schools are often reluctant to use them because differentiating between staff in this way is divisive and can leave schools vulnerable to equal pay claims."

Funding issue

John Dunford, leader of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Teaching mathematics, as I know from long personal experience, is an interesting and professionally rewarding job, but there are many other highly paid jobs for mathematics graduates."

It was simply not possible to recruit the number of young graduate mathematicians required to make good the shortage.

The government's proposals were welcome, but he also was concerned about singling out maths for special treatment.

"The problem for schools with maths recruitment problems is not the lack of flexibility. It is the lack of funding to pay the higher salaries."

Esteem

Mr Clarke acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, with the vacancy rate for maths teachers in schools being higher than for any other subject.

His response said there would also be opportunities for better ongoing training of maths teachers, and the setting up of a national centre of excellence in the subject.

He said his plans "centre on revitalising the study of mathematics".

He added: "The key issue is to raise the profile and esteem of mathematics.

"In the meantime it is important we provide the right incentives to attract graduates to become mathematics teachers."

GCSE changes

Prof Smith - principal of Queen Mary college, London - said the response was "very pleasing".

Adrain Smith
Prof Smith: "Promising start"
He said ministers had addressed his three main concerns about supply of teachers, supporting those in the profession, and the organisation of the curriculum.

Asked to rate their proposals, he said: "So far, nine out of 10. Now we have to watch and make sure they follow through with the right resources."

He said it was understandable that not more had been said ahead of the completion of the spending review, but "it would make nonsense of some of the words if there weren't to be resources following on".

His report had criticised the existing qualifications structure, especially the three-tier maths GCSE.

The government is likely to make a decision on introducing a two-tier qualification this autumn, once it has evaluated a version being piloted in this summer's exams.

The new courses might be taught nationwide from September 2006.

The qualifications authority is also being asked to come up with ideas for making maths more demanding for more able students.

But the government is likely to combine the changes with its response at the end of the year to the more wide-ranging review of 14 to 19 learning being carried out by the former chief inspector of England's schools, Mike Tomlinson.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Westhead
"There just aren't enough good maths teachers"



SEE ALSO:
Action plan to rescue maths
24 Feb 04  |  Education
Maths exams 'fail at all levels'
20 Feb 04  |  Education
Radical exams overhaul proposed
17 Feb 04  |  Education
Debate over maths teaching
02 Jul 03  |  Education
Maths 'should be optional'
21 Apr 03  |  Education
More students choose maths
14 Feb 03  |  Education


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