MORE than 4,500 graduates have applied to become teachers since the Government announced in March that pound;6,000 salaries will be paid to postgraduate trainees.
Compared to the same period last year an extra 1,100 applications have been received. Of these at least 350 were for secondary subjects where there are shortages and for which new teachers will be given a pound;4,000 "golden hello".
Speaking at the launch of the Government's Teacher Training Agency Corporate Plan in London this week, schools minister Estelle Morris said the salaries and golden hellos were "beginning to bear fruit in the way we had hoped" and were the best way to attract top graduates.
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Asociation of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, welcomed the figures. "If the Government applied it to teaching and raised all salaries by pound;6,000 that will crack the recruitment problem."
But the National Union of Teachers criticised the training salaries, which are not offered to students taking BEd degrees.
Between September 1999 and this May teacher recruitment fell compared to the same period last year - from almost 13,000 to 12,000 in the primary sector, and 13,500 to 12,500 this year.
Last week Ralph Tabberer, the head of the TTA, admitted that the Government's pound;10 million cinema advertising campaign, in which the nation was told that "no one forgets a good teacher", had failed.