TEACHERS in Essex are being offered discounts on everything from DIY gear to car repairs in a bid to address staff shortages, writes Warwick Mansell.
Seventeen enterprising schools in the north of the county have banded together to negotiate reductions with local businesses.
Among those to sign up so far are a builders' merchants and the repair firm ATS Tyres and Exhausts.
The move comes after Paul Lincoln, director of education in Essex, warned that schools in the county could b forced to send pupils home because of shortages.
It is just the latest case of schools and councils in and around London offering an ever-growing range of incentives to woo teachers.
Medway, in Kent, one of three authorities where some pupils have been on a four-day week, is considering giving young teachers the chance to develop their careers through free evening classes. Part-buy, part-rent housing deals are also proving increasingly popular with authorities, who are keen to soften high accommodation costs in the south-east.
Kent is considering a series of tie-ups with housing associations, with teachers only having to pay half a mortgage.