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MI5 is offering teachers "looking for something completely different" the chance to help to screen would-be intelligence officers. The teachers are being recruited for "pre-employment assessments of applicants" in the security service, responsible for intelligence gathering within Britain, at £26,700 a year plus pension.

MI5 is offering teachers "looking for something completely different" the chance to help to screen would-be intelligence officers. The teachers are being recruited for "pre-employment assessments of applicants" in the security service, responsible for intelligence gathering within Britain, at £26,700 a year plus pension.

An advert in yesterday's Times Educational Supplement said the service was also seeking people from health care and counselling. "We are looking for people with experience of varied or ethnically diverse appointments to carry out pre-employment assessments of all jobs," the advert said.

Former teachers should have a head start, because the job involves talking to would-be spies and writing reports on them. There are also opportunities to travel abroad.

But those who have tired of the classroom will have to come up with a cloak-and-dagger cover story to hide the truth of their new career. The advert said: "Please avoid telling your friends about your application because discretion is an essential part of working for the security service." The pay cheque was likely to appeal to a lot of teachers, said Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

"Anything to get out of the classroom and, with £26,700 a year, it's definitely an attractive option," he said wryly. "I would recommend going for it."

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