Cash points

The incentives due this month are more like 'golden boomerangs', writes Sean Coughlan.

The Golden Hello would be a good name for a James Bond movie. It could be the code name for a deadly trap being laid by a villain with a taste for beautiful women, bad puns and special effects. "No one escapes the Golden Hello," he'd smarm, as our hero faced almost certain destruction.

This month, some teachers will be looking forward to their own golden hello, as they stand to collect the pound;4,000 offered as an incentive for teachers of shortage subjects - English (including drama), science, maths, information technology, design and technology and modern languages. This will generally apply to secondary schools, but primary teachers can also qualify if they are specialists who teach a shortage subject to pupils other than those in their own class.

It may be known as the golden hello, but it's not paid out when you first shake hands with the headteacher. You have to complete a year in the classroom before you qualify for the cash. It is intended to discourage you from disappearing straight after training, so maybe it should be called the "golden boomerang" as a reward for those who keep coming back. Thus, teachers of shortage subjects who began their first jobs last September should now be eligible for a payout, made as a single payment.

To claim the money, your head, deputy or head of department must sign a form to confirm that you have completed your induction, and this is then forwarded to the local authority. The money is paid with your regular salary and is subject to the same tax and national insurance deductions (although it doesn't count as pensionable salary).

If teachers are lucky with their timing, or particularly calculating, the golden hello could be the latest in a series of training windfalls, following on from the pound;6,000 training bursary and the prospect that shortage-subject teachers will get help paying off their student loans.

If the person sitting next to you in the staffroom hasn't received these bonuses, it's probably best not to punch the air and cheer when your money comes through. Or else you might get another version of the golden hello.

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