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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK


Blair's cash offer to language teachers

Tony Blair says cash incentives have helped recruitment

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has extended a scheme of cash incentives to encourage more students to enter teacher training for modern languages.

In an attempt to tackle a recruitment crisis for modern language teachers, trainees for the subject will receive a "golden hello" of £5,000 from September 2000.

The scheme was introduced last year to encourage more graduates to become science and maths teachers - with a success rate that has pushed up recruitment figures by over 30%.

[ image: Students entering teacher training for languages will be given £5,000]
Students entering teacher training for languages will be given £5,000
Since the incentives were offered, Mr Blair said that an additional 37% more maths student teachers have been recruited, 33% more physics teachers and 27% more in chemistry.

The scheme was introduced when the shortage of teachers threatened to become so severe that it would undermine the government's efforts to raise standards in schools.

Such initiatives as the golden hellos and an extensive cinema and television advertising campaign have contributed to an improvement in recruitment figures, which this year are believed to believed to be increasing for both primary and secondary level.

Listen to Tony Blair answer some of the questions raised on the Newsnight programme
Mr Blair made the announcement on a visit to Valentine's High School in Ilford in Essex, as he answered questions from an invited audience for broadcast on BBC Two's Newsnight on Monday at 21.30 GMT.

The prime minister's announcement follows the education secretary's reassertion earlier in the day of the government's commitment to reforming the education system.

The Education Secretary David Blunkett, addressing the Confederation of British Industry, had emphasised that the government's proposals to introduce performance-related pay were an integral part of the process of school improvement.

This message was backed by the prime minister, who told his audience that performance pay would mean that half of the teaching profession would share in an extra £1bn made available by the government.

"If we are going to pay teachers more I have to justify that to the whole of the public. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that if you are going to put £1bn in ... there must be some system to make sure we get the very best out of it."

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