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Come back please...

A series of measures to lure teachers back to the profession were announced by David Blunkett this week in response to the teacher shortage, writes Julie Henry. The pound;200 million package includes:

* A teacher recruitment and retention fund worth pound;35m in 2001-2 and at least as much in 2002-3. It will be targeted on schools in expensive or challenging areas. Heads will be able to hand out housing, childcare and travel subsidies or raise salaries.

* A pound;2,000 "welcome back" bonus for qualified teachers who have been out of the classroom for more than a year and return tothe profession between Easter and Christmas.

* 570 extra places a year for mature career-changers to do their teacher training train in schools on the Graduate Teacher Programme, taking the total number on it to 2,250 a year. It gives schools up to pound;13,000 a year to cover salary and other costs.

* Funding for 500 new places on 10-week refresher courses for returners to teaching. Returners will get up to pound;150 a week while training, as well as cash towards childcare costs. Course providers get a pound;500 bonus if a trainee takes a post in the maintained sector.

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