New plan to woo would-be teachers

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The Independent Online

Would-be teachers will be offered a range of new financial incentives as part of the Government's five-year plan to drive up standards in secondary education.

Would-be teachers will be offered a range of new financial incentives as part of the Government's five-year plan to drive up standards in secondary education.

Undergraduates entering shortage subjects such as maths, science, modern languages, technology and English could have their student loans paid off by the Government from next year.

And in an effort to speed up recruitment, another initiative would allow undergraduates to take most teacher training modules during their primary degree.

This would involve paying undergraduates up to £2,000 to train during their three-month summer holidays.

A multi-million pound pilot project involving about 60,000 pupils will be aimed at helping schools with a high proportion of children who get free school meals to offer a much wider range of extra-curricular activities.

Tomorrow, Education Secretary David Blunkett will unveil to the House of Commons a Green Paper outlining the five-year strategy.

Ministers believe there is now strong evidence that New Labour's reforms have produced significantly rising standards in primary schools, and want to repeat that success in the secondary sector.

A key element in the strategy is the major expansion in the number of specialist schools, from 600 to 1,500, which Mr Blair announced on Thursday.

Under the loans pay-off scheme, those going into subjects in which there are shortages would have 10% of their loan paid off by the Government in each year of their early careers.

The staggered pay-off is intended to aid retention.

The "golden handcuffs" deal could see a typical student save around £10,000 over 10 years, provided they stay in teaching.

The new incentive would be on top of the £4,000 "golden hellos" for which such entrants already qualify. For the first time, English would become a "golden hello" subject.

The new plan to pay off student loans was welcomed by the National Association of Head Teachers, but General Secretary David Hart said the financial incentives should be offered to every newly qualified teacher.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT said he welcomed the measure but believed it smacked of panic and threw into chaos the whole principle of student loans.

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