Decent wage entices high-flying graduates to try London teaching

HIGH-flying graduates recruited for two-year stints in London's toughest classrooms could be paid almost as much as newly-qualified teachers - after just eight weeks' training.

The graduates will be on the Teach First programme, a new scheme that aims to persuade talented young people to try out teaching before they embark on other careers - with the hope that some will stay in the profession.

At its launch this week business people were told that the programme, modelled on a long-running US scheme, could also be extended to other deprived areas.

Rona Kiley, founding director of Teach First, said she hoped the new recruits will be "paid as close to first year teachers' salaries as possible". NQTs in inner London start on a minimum of pound;20,733.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, backed the scheme and said he expected those on it to start on around pound;17,500.

He envisaged that recruits would have a reduced timetable, and be strongly supported by schools working closely with London University's Institute of Education.

Teach First wants to recruit 200 graduates for September 2003, rising to 400 for 2004. All are expected to get qualified status in their first year.

The aim is to establish a "prestige" route for applicants from "top" universities. Recruits will be used to fill vacancies in schools where at least a third of the pupils are entitled to free school meals. Up to 145 London schools could eventually benefit.

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