Primary trainees lose out on 'golden hello'

Students are told they do not qualify for the expected pound;4,000 bonus. Michael Shaw reports

THOUSANDS of primary teachers who were expecting to receive "golden hello" cash bonuses have fallen foul of a get-out clause.

The Department for Education and Skills had told trainee-teachers that they could gain pound;4,000 bonuses if they taught a shortage subject such as mathematics, English, or modern languages in primary schools.

But the clause, which does not appear on material promoting the bonuses, says postgraduate certificate in education students will only get the money if more than 51 per cent of their training is in their specialist subject.

This appears to exclude all of the 6,000 students currently on primary courses, because they only spend a small fraction of their time studying their specialisms.

The predicament has angered trainee teachers at Bath Spa University College, who are organising a petition.

Student Sara Harry, aged 31, said the "golden hello" had been a major influence on her decision to leave the lucrative computing industry to train as an ICT teacher.

Before starting the course she checked the Teacher Training Agency's brochure and rang the Government's Teaching Information Line to confirm that she was eligible.

"The payment would go some way to redress the shortfall in my new income as a teacher," she said.

The DFES website states that "golden hellos" are mainly aimed at teachers in secondary schools, then adds that teachers employed in primary schools "may also be eligible if they are responsible for teaching the shortage subject in which they trained to classes or groups other than their own".

A DFES spokeswoman said it was up to the course provider to decide if their PGCEs were sufficiently specialist.

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