Teachers' pounds 5,000 `golden hello'

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MATHS AND science teachers could be paid "golden hellos" of up to pounds 5,000 under plans to be announced tomorrow to combat acute staff shortages in schools.

The special payments for newly qualified teachers are expected to form part of a package of measures designed to reverse the decline in recruits coming into schools.

Head teachers complain that vacancies often remain unfilled and say many schools survive on supply teachers. Figures published last week showed a 6 per cent fall in the numbers of students starting teacher training degrees this year. Problems are most acute in maths and science subjects, which have seen sharp falls in recruitment in recent years.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, will announce measures to increase the popularity of teaching ahead of a Green Paper, due to be published later this year, which will outline fundamental reform of teachers' pay and conditions.

Ministers are anxious to change the current system of national pay scales in favour of some form of performance-related pay.

A government source said yesterday that recruitment of primary school teachers was on target for this year, but admitted that attracting sufficient secondary school teachers remained a problem.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teaching union, warned that differential pay rates would not solve the recruitment problem. "The real issue to address," he said, "is the poor pay and the poor working conditions in the whole teaching profession."