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Pay-outs at Fresh Start college

SPECIAL pay-outs of up to pound;2,703 each are being proposed for teachers at the Northamptonshire Fresh Start school where pupils are on a four-day week.

The cash - which will come from the school's budget - will give all existing permanent staff at Corby Community College around pound;1,800 more this year in an attempt to encourage them to stay in post.

Those in shortage subjects - maths, modern languages, science and ICT - will get pound;2,703. A supply staff package is being worked out separately with agencies.

The payments, discussed with the Department for Education and Employment, come as Beechwood school in Slough and Upbury Manor in Medway expect to resume full timetables for all pupils from Monday.

Beechwood instigated a four- day week for Year 11 pupils last month and the same regime was adopted for Years 7, 8 and 9 at Upbury Manor in the week before half-term.

Both schools had staff problems and Richard Bolsin, Medway director of education, has now told the Teacher Training Agency that all government agencies must work together to tackle shortages.

"It's quite clear that evey local authority in the South-east is facing the sort of problems we have had. I suspect we are all papering over the cracks."

The Corby pay deal, out to consultation with staff and trade unions, gives teachers extra cash via recruitment and retention allowances this year, after which they will be reviewed.

A Northamptonshire council spokesperson said: "This is not an emergency measure. The pay arrangements ... have been drawn up to enable the school to attract and retain the staff it needs."

Gordon White, county secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the payments would not make a difference to staff if they had to endure more four-day weeks.

"And they know the payments are a one-off for one year," he added.

The college, created out of two failing schools in the Northamptonshire town, introduced the four-day week from October 9 because it was seven teachers short.

Since then groups of students have been spending one day a week studying at home although the college has pledged to return to normal timetables by November 10.

Recruitment crisis, 6

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