Teachers to get pounds 5,000 `golden hello'

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The Independent Online
HIGH-FLYING graduates will be offered a pounds 5,000 "golden hello" to go into teaching as part of the Government's drive to boost standards in schools.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, will announce this week that new recruits to the teaching profession will be eligible for the special bursary if they qualify for the Government's "fast track" teacher training scheme. They will also be offered bigger annual pay increases and faster promotion than their colleagues, in return for working longer hours and offering to travel around the country to different schools.

The plan to award one off bonuses to the most able trainee teachers will infuriate teaching unions who do not want to see youngsters promoted over long-serving staff. However, ministers are determined to attract the brightest graduates into teaching by putting starting salaries onto a par with other professions open to people leaving university.

Mr Blunkett is also preparing to face down union anger this week by pressing ahead with proposals to introduce performance-related pay in schools, when the Government submits its evidence to the teachers' pay review body. Ministers want to create a new breed of "super teacher" who can earn high salaries for staying in the classroom rather than having to go into management. They will stress that performance will be assessed in its broadest sense, rather than being based on crude measures such as exam results. However, teaching unions are resisting the attempt to impose assessment of teachers' performance and introduce greater flexibility into the system.

A central plank of the Government's strategy is the new "fast track" scheme, similar to initiatives which already exist in the police and civil service. Mr Blunkett believes that recruits must be given an immediate financial incentive to sign up as well as opportunities for rewards in the future. The pounds 5,000 bursaries will be paid for from the pounds 18m already allocated by the Government to fund the first three years of the rapid promotion scheme.

Teachers on the fast track initiative can expect to reach an extra performance- related pay threshold within five years, instead of seven, and to receive pay rises up to double those of their contemporaries each year. The aim is to create a new generation of "superteachers" paid good salaries to stay in the classroom, rather than being forced to move into management jobs if they want to improve their pay.

The first applications will be invited in September next year and the eventual aim is for one in twenty teachers to be "fast trackers".

The Government has already successfully attracted teachers into unpopular subjects such as maths and sciences by offering "golden hellos" - there has been a 5 per cent rise in graduates applying to train as teachers, including a 38 per cent rise in the number of people accepted to teach maths and a 20 per cent increase in applications to teach science.

Ministers are confident that they will be able to persuade the profession of the importance of assessment. Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, last week became the first union leader to throw his weight behind the Government's proposals for reform of the pay structure.

There will also be new opportunities for head teachers to earn more if they achieve particular targets for their schools. Teachers will be able to move into leadership positions more quickly through a new national qualification for headship, organised by the National College for School Leadership.