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Name your price at the maths job 'boot sale'

TWO lines of an Essex comprehensive's job advert in last week's TES spell out the severity of the teaching shortage - albeit in terms perhaps too blunt for some.

Teachers applying for the maths post at Mark Hall school, in Harlow, are encouraged, when negotiating for the post, to "treat it like a boot sale or shopping in Afghanistan - name your price". This is just one example of the honesty with which schools are facing up to the crisis as they see to lure staff who enjoy unprecedented choice in the thousands of jobs in The TES recently. This week's edition features about 6,000 vacancies.

An advert from Holyhead school, Birmingham, also has an air of desperation, as it urges would-be maths teachers to "go on, give it a try, you know you won't be disappointed".

The school told The TES it had advertised twice before for the maths post, and for positions in music, drama and dance, without success.

Schools are offering staff a startling array of incentives, including management points for newly qualified teachers, full pay over the summer holidays, help with housing and "golden handcuffs" of up to pound;5,500.

Bridgemary, an 11-16 secondary in Gosport, Hampshire, has offere to pay newly-qualified teachers pound;4,000 more than the national average. Head Cheryl Heron said: "We are a challenging school. I want quality teachers and am willing to pay for them."

Aylward, a secondary in the London borough of Enfield, has spent pound;25,000 on advertising since April. Two years ago it spent about pound;5,000. It has 12 vacancies in a staff of about 100. Sittingbourne community college, in Kent, claims to be able to guarantee that its pupils' exam performance will improve, claiming that its GCSE results "will double from 20 to 40 per cent in four years".

Some schools even include in their ads coded digs at those they feel are responsible for recruitment problems - the ad for Lordswood girls' school and sixth-form centre, Harborne, being a case in point reads: "No maths today, our staff have gone away, to join the LEA (courtesy DFEE numeracy strategy)".

Sometimes even the most inventive adverts fail to produce results. Brockhill Park school, in Hythe, Kent, was featured in The TES two months ago offering science teachers not only a relocation package and a laptop, but "free eggs from our splendid chickens". Last week, the school was forced to re-advertise.

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