Get charter for a possible pay rise
Experienced science teachers who demonstrate a commitment to professional development will be given charter status as a "badge of excellence".
The move follows the Privy Council's decision to award a Royal Charter to the Association for Science Education, which is holding its annual conference in Leeds this week.
The first chartered science teachers are expected to receive the award next year, with insiders suggesting it will soon be linked to higher pay as a way of tackling recruitment and retention problems. The number of graduates starting science postgraduate certificates in education fell last year to 2,484, well below the Westminster Government's target of 2,879.
Derek Bell, chief executive of ASE, which has members from across the UK, said his organisation's Royal Charter offers ministers an opportunity to boost the recruitment of science teachers.
"We would expect that as chartered status for science teachers becomes established it would make a difference to salary and other rewards."
The ASE will be responsible for the award of chartered status for science teachers. But it will be for the Westminster Government, advised by the School Teachers' Review Body, to decide whether chartered science teachers will be paid more than their unchartered colleagues. Teachers' pay issues have not been devolved to the Welsh Assembly.
Mr Bell said those wanting to gain the award would have to demonstrate a commitment to professional development and excellent classroom skills.
Details will be published in the spring but he suggested it could take applicants two or three years' work. It would then have to be renewed every five years.
A report by Sir Gareth Roberts, president of Wolfson college Oxford, for the Treasury in 2002 called for an increase in pay for maths and science teachers to tackle recruitment problems.
Other subject organisations, including the Maths Association, are believed to be looking at similar schemes.
Ministers rejected Sir Gareth's call under pressure from unions who labelled it divisive.
But in September the Government launched a chartered teacher scheme for London which offers pound;1,000 to experienced teachers who reach the standard.
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