Bonus plan to recruit more black teachers

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Black male prospective teachers should be offered "golden handshakes" in a bid to persuade them to take a job in the classroom, says a major report published yesterday.

Black male prospective teachers should be offered "golden handshakes" in a bid to persuade them to take a job in the classroom, says a major report published yesterday.

The payments - in line with the £4,000 already on offer for trainees opting to teach shortage subjects such as maths - are seen as vital to providing black boys with role models to help them succeed at school.

The 285-page study highlights the chronic under-performance of African- Caribbean boys at school.

The report, from an education commission set up by the London Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Labour MP Diane Abbott, reveals the proportion of black pupils in London schools (19.5 per cent) is more than six times the number of black teachers (2.9 per cent). However, it says the problem of under-performance extends to other inner-city areas with a significant number of black pupils. It adds that many black youngsters claim they suffer racism from white teachers.

"Inadequate levels of positive teacher attention, unfair behaviour management practices, disproportionately high levels of exclusion and an inappropriate curriculum take their toll on levels of attainment," it says.

However, black pupils said black teachers were "more encouraging, provided greater support and had higher expectations for academic success".

Mr Livingstone said yesterday that he wanted to set a target that nearly a third of all London teachers should be of African, Caribbean or Asian heritage. At present, while 43.5 per cent of the pupils are, only 7.4 per cent of the teachers come from these backgrounds.

At present 70 per cent of African-Caribbean youngsters leave school with less than five top A* to C grade passes at GCSE - compared with under half of the total population.

"The retention, recruitment and promotion of black teachers should be addressed as a matter of urgency," it says.

However, the call to single out black trainees for "golden handshakes" was opposed by teachers' leaders last night.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I don't think that's the answer. What we need is good teachers ... able to relate to the problems of black pupils."

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "You can't get African- Caribbean people into the classroom unless they get into the sixth form first of all. You need to address under-achievement and then persuade them to take up teaching."

"Golden hellos" are available to would-be maths, science, modern languages, technology, English and drama teachers. They receive £2,000 on starting and a further £2,000 a year later if they are still in teaching.

The Teacher Training Agency said it had a target to increase the proportion of ethnic minority trainees to nine per cent by 2005/6 and had almost reached this figure.

The Department for Education and Skills said the number of ethnic minority teachers had gone up from 1,009 in 2000 to 2,637 in 2002.

The call for "golden handshakes" is just one of a series of measures to be put to a London-wide conference on "London and the black child" to take place on Saturday.

Others include measures to cut down on the exclusions of black pupils from school. Figures show black pupils are twice as likely to be excluded as white.

The report says that schools should avoid excluding a pupil for a first offence - unless knives or guns are involved.