MPs support higher local pay for teachers

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The Independent Online

Schools suffering from teacher shortages should have greater powers to pay their staff more, an all-party committee of MPs will recommend tomorrow.

Schools suffering from teacher shortages should have greater powers to pay their staff more, an all-party committee of MPs will recommend tomorrow.

The Commons Education Select Committee will back controversial plans to move further away from national pay rates for teachers to enable struggling schools to recruit and keep the best staff - a problem found in underprivileged areas or at schools with poor academic results.

But the move will infuriate the teaching unions, which have always argued that localising pay rates would be divisive.

The report into the recruitment and retention of secondary school teachers will call for the creation of a specialist programme to recruit an elite band of staff to work in the country's toughest schools. MPs believe the UK must emulate a scheme based at UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles, which recruits and trains teachers who hope to spend their entire careers in challenging schools.

"It needs to become a badge of honour to work in a challenging school,'' said one senior figure. The UK needed a fraternity of specially trained teachers who supported each other to stay in the toughest jobs.

The inquiry, which began last year amid fears of a mounting teacher shortage, found that the problem had largely been solved thanks to measures such as the £4,000 "golden hellos" for new teachers in shortage subjects. However, many schools still suffered from staff shortages.

The inquiry concluded that the current system of extra salary allowances for teachers working in and around London had created knock-on problems for neighbouring counties, which did not qualify for the bonuses. In Essex, schools have suffered because teachers who live in the county can earn more by commuting to London.

The report will add weight to plans being considered by the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which makes recommendations on teachers' pay. The STRB has proposed that schools suffering shortages should be allowed to pay London rates wherever they are. It proposed four pay bands based on rates for teachers in inner and outer London, the fringes of the city, and the rest of England and Wales.

But the bands would not be linked to specific areas, and schools with persistent recruitment problems would be able to apply to move to a higher band. The report will also warn that too many young teachers are leaving the profession in the first two years of their careers - particularly those in challenging schools.

MPs believe that a national programme similar to the UCLA scheme would also help young teachers by giving them support.

The UK has already adopted another US scheme which places the brightest graduates in challenging London schools for two years, usually before they go on to other jobs.

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