The controversial proposal aimed at solving the continuing recruitment crisis in these subjects came in Education Secretary Estelle Morris's submission to the School Teachers' Pay Review body last week. It comes after statistics showing that the offer of a pound;4,000 golden hello in shortage subjects has failed to attract enough recruits. Thses show a shortfall of 390 maths teachers and 380 scientists (in England).
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, admitted the plan seemed divisive but said: "If it is necessary to offer more incentives to encourage people to come into teaching maths and science, we have to bite the bullet. The law of the jungle or market place will have to apply." John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, said that, amid shortages, pay "flexibility" looked inevitable.
But the idea looks set to meet fierce opposition from classroom teachers. Writing on The TES's website this week, Leeds teacher Trish Gallagher, said: "How dare they? I teach English - a core subject which has a huge workload. How am I supposed to feel if science and maths teachers are paid more? Are we not all equally important?"
Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The system already allows schools to pay maths and science teachers more, through recruitment points and golden hellos. If that isn't working then I don't see why this proposal will." He said the best way to boost recruitment would be to tackle problems such as workload and discipline.