HIGH-FLYING new teachers will get a pound;5,000 "golden hello" along with accelerated promotion and pay rises, ministers revealed yesterday as they pressed ahead with delayed plans for a fast track for the profession.
The cash - an added incentive for teachers who will be expected to give up part of their holidays to undertake extra training - will be paid in three instalments: at the beginning and end of their teacher training, and on taking up a first fast-track teaching post. Candidates will not be eligible for other bursaries such as the pound;5,000 incentive payments for maths and science teachers.
The scheme will be open to final-year undergraduates, including those on BEd courses, PGCE students and also to serving teachers, from new entrants to senior staff.
Schools minister Estelle Morris said a good degree did not guarantee a good teacher, but the profession was failing to attract some of the brightest graduates in the country. "The reality is most other professions have a fast-track system. We have to win those people to education.
"Graduates have a choice where they take work and we have to compete in that market," she said.
But Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said it was "crazy" to identify brilliant teachers before they had even stepped into a classroom.
"Some won't be able to hack it and you can imagine the reaction from the rest of the staff when they have to quell a riot in the fast-tracker's classroom," he said. "We're happy with an accelerated programme, but let them prove themselves first."
But Ms Morris said those who fail to measure up would be quickly dropped from the closely-monitored programme.
The Government hopes that in time up to 1,000 fast-track entrants will be recruited each year. Recruitment will begin in September 2000 among final-year undergraduates, with the first crop starting training or taking up posts 12 months later. Details of how candidates will be identified have still to be decided.
Schools will be encouraged to earmark challenging jobs - genuine vacancies, not "add-on" posts - which will be circulated to people on the scheme. They will be compensated for the extra costs of training or supply cover that arise.
The typical entrant will work in two or three contrasting schools before reaching the top of the normal pay scale after five years - two years ahead of their contemporaries.