NURSERY teachers will be able to claim up to pound;4,000 for returning to work after The TES highlighted their plight.
The Welcome Back Bonus scheme aims to tempt trained teachers back into the classroom - but staff returning to maintained nursery schools were excluded.
Last month The TES raised the case of Hilary Harris, returning as a head to a north London nursery, but denied the pound;4,000 bonus which heads coming back to primary or secondary schools get.
Now school standards minister Stephen Timms has agreed to extend the scheme.
A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "Welcome Back Bonuses will be extended to returning nursery school teachers in recognition of the important role that nursery teachers play in education and in response to comments we have received."
Mrs Harris, who is head at Moss Hall nursery, said: "That's wonderful news. It's not about the money, it's about the recognition. I look at the people I work with, who are so dedicated, and I do think the work we do is very important."
There are about 500 state nurseries in England. About 40 teachers returned to work in them in 19992000, the latest year for which figures are available.
All those who meet the criteria and have returned to work between April 17, 2001, and December 31, 2002, will get a bonus. Heads returning will get pound;4,000 and teachers pound;2,000.
The scheme has attracted controversy from its introduction with unions describing it as divisive and unfair.
To apply for a Welcome Back Bonus contact the registration line on 01928 792022