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Real challenge is to keep recruits happy

Training applications have increased but the GTC says that retaining teachers is trickier, reports Karen Thornton

The General Teaching Council this week warned ministers that more needs to be done to stop existing teachers leaving the classroom.

Chief executive Carol Adams spoke out as the Government welcomed the latest teacher-training recruitment figures which showed another increase in applicants.

Applications to postgraduate teacher-training courses are up 19.1 per cent on last year, with big increases in information technology, chemistry, English and maths.

Recruitment analyst John Howson said, however, that applications were still below the levels when Labour came to power and predicted maths targets would not be met this year.

"Ministers are comparing with figures from last year that were so bad they led to pound;6,000 training salaries for student teachers," he added.

Ms Adams said: "It's good news that more graduates are applying for teaching and realising what a worthwhile career it can be. But the real challenge now is to keep people in the profession."

Her comments came as The TES discovered that one of the country's largest councils is advising its schools not to award retention and recruitment bonuses to teachers.

The Government is giving heads the flexibility to offer up to pound;5,000 in additional salary points to tackle staff shortaes.

But Leeds has a long-standing policy of advising heads not to award extra pay incentives "as this can be divisive among schools' existing staff".

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, said he knew of groups of schools that had agreed not to use points.

The Department for Education and Employment said: "Decisions on whether to offer recruitment and retention allowances rest with schools, not LEAs. It's a governing body decision."

Malcolm Wheeler, head of Wavell school, Farnborough, Hampshire, has spent pound;12,000 on recruitment and retention points - but is struggling to attract applicants and is pound;55,000 overspent on his supply budget.

High housing costs in the South-east are a factor, but so too are the status of the profession and working conditions, he said.

"The pay route did little or nothing to support or enable us to get a sufficient number of quality staff in the school. There has to be a change in our perception of teachers," he said.

In Leeds, a small number of heads have awarded recruitment and retention points, despite the local authority policy.

A spokeswoman said: "This policy is only intended as general guidance. "The final decision on offering extra points on the pay scales rests with headteachers and governors at individual schools."

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