New staff have a free jab at teaching

10th January 2003 at 00:00
SORE throat? Runny nose? Burning temperature? Consider a move to Solihull.

In an attempt to entice newly qualified teachers to its schools, the West Midlands borough is offering free flu jabs for all recruits.

It is one of many authorities offering incentives to help young teachers with notoriously difficult expenses, such as relocation, housing or travel. A number of councils also offer more unusual perks and Solihull is not alone in offering flu jabs, a TES survey reveals.

For teachers worried about their health there is a range of choices. Essex and the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, for example, offer discounted private healthcare. Many authorities provide reduced-cost leisure cards, though the reductions vary considerably. Occasional gym users might be happy in Wokingham, which offers a 10 per cent discount, but regular users would prefer the 50 per cent discounts available in Lambeth, south London.

Challenged to provide affordable transport for teachers, authorities have opted for different approaches. Kensington and Chelsea provides a bicycle pool for new recruits. Service, though, can reap rewards: after two years teachers in the borough graduate to public transport with a free London travelcard.

There are incentives to cater for personal tastes and predilections. Compulsive spenders might be attracted by Bedfordshire's offer of shopping discounts. Those with temperamental cars may prefer the free AA membership provided in Hertfordshire. Meanwhile, teachers for whom cleanliness is a priority would appreciate the discounted water bills offered in Hampshire.

But a spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers remains unimpressed. "Though I am sure this will help make authorities more attractive, young teachers will still apply for jobs based on more substantial factors than a 40 per cent leisure discount. A free bike does not help with the cost of living," she said.

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