THE Government aims to recruit more than 250,000 teachers in the next 10 years by making the profession "the most prestigious in the country", Prime Minister Tony Blair has claimed.
Launching the National College for School Leadership at the annual new heads' conference in central London last week, Mr Blair went on a charm offensive.
This was in marked contrast to his speech at last year's conference, when he attacked the "forces of conservativism" among teachers, to howls of derision from professional associations.
Now, hailing the first rise in recruitment to teacher training in eight years, he implied the Government still had work to do to persuade graduates and career-changers of the profession's benefits.
He said: "The attractions of the other so-called modern professions - media, advertising, dotcoms, are clear enough.
"But is there really any job more challening or fulfilling than nurturing the mind of a child? Is there anyone more central to the drive for a good and strong society than a good and strong teacher?"
Mr Blair said the Government was committed to making teaching a better-paid profession by increasing the share of national income devoted to education.
Ministers also announced that the number of senior staff applying for headteacher training had trebled to 3,000 following changes to the National Professional Qualification for Headship scheme.
The leadership college, first proposed two years ago in the teaching Green Paper, will take charge of all headteacher training courses, provide an on line centre for debate, host conferences and disseminate research.
It will operate from temporary premises until its permanent home, a pound;25 million complex at Nottingham University, opens in May, 2002.