Newly qualified, and being paid pound;25,000 per year

Mithran Samuel

A 23-year-old newly-qualified teacher walked into a pound;25,000 job this year - just one of many examples of students' power in the jobs market, say teacher trainers.

Recruitment points, accommodation and transport subsidies and free laptops are just a few of the incentives being offered to newcomers to the profession.

The minimum starting salary for an NQT is pound;17,000, or pound;20,000 in inner London. Some schools are not even bothering to check students' references with tutors because they are so desperate to start the year with a full complement of staff.

Peter Shipley, secondary education leader at Middlesex University, revealed the story of the design and technology student offered a starting salary of pound;25,000.

"Earlier in the year we were having people apply to teach design and technology who were being offered pound;21,000 and they thought they were doing very well.

"Student teachers have a lot more bargaining power and the graduates from the past year's post-graduate course have found it extremely easy to get jobs."

With such sweeteners on offer, some students have taken to playing schools off against each other, despite their tutors' warnings.

Simon Wattam, head of the registry at London's Institute of Education, said: "Anecdotally at least, there are people saying they have been offered higher salaries than they would expect and they are using that against other schools.

"A lot of people are finding that, if they impress during teaching practice, then schools will make them better offers."

Mr Shipley said: "We tell students that a verbal agreement is a kind of contract and warn them against playing the market.

"People who took jobs earlier on regretted it later. There have been some particularly good deals that have come up later.

"Heads have been a lot more generous with pay and incentives, like free laptops and help with transport and accommodation."

In a number of cases, students' credentials are being checked only after appointments have been made, if at all.

John Moss, head of secondary education at Canterbury Christ Church university college, said: "Some schools appointed student teachers before they had taken up references.

"That's obviously an indication that heads are very keen to make appointments when they can. I am concerned when we are consulted after an appointment has been made. There were several cases of that."

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Mithran Samuel

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