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Study shows UK teachers among world's best-paid

Teachers in the UK are among the best-paid in the world, according to a new study.

An analysis of the teaching workforce in 25 countries shows that only five - Switzerland, Korea, Germany, Japan and the United States - pay more than UK schools.

In this country, salaries start on pound;19,000 a year outside London, and can rise to almost pound;28,000 after five years.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), released this week, says that pay for new teachers increased more quickly in the UK between 1994 and 2002 than almost any other country.

The reports also revealed that teachers in the UK can progress from starting salaries to the highest rates of pay in between five and 10 years.

Only teachers in New Zealand and Denmark have better promotion prospects.

In comparison, teachers in Hungary take on average almost 40 years to reach the top jobs.

But the report also says that UK schools continue to suffer shortages of qualified teachers in certain subjects.

Half the countries surveyed said that finding enough highly-qualified teachers was a problem, with Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US named as having the most acute shortages.

In the UK, vacancies in secondary schools peaked in 2001, with almost 3 per cent of ICT teaching jobs and 2 per cent of maths posts being unfilled at any one time.

Shortages have since eased, although rates differ across the country. At primary-school level, the UK actually has a surplus of qualified teachers.

Dr Paulo Santiago, of the OECD, said reforms such as the introduction of "golden hellos" had helped to ease shortages. But he warned that the number of government initiatives could have a negative effect on the teaching profession.

"We got the impression that teachers were a bit overwhelmed with all the reforms that were being introduced," he said.

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