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They've never had it so good

... that's the view of the Teacher Training Agency as it spelt out plans to pay trainee teachers, reports Nicolas Barnard

"THERE HAS never been a better time to join the teaching profession," said Ralph Tabberer, the Teacher Training Agency's new chief executive in response to last week's announcement of pound;6,000 training salaries.

The money will be paid in nine monthly instalments of around pound;660 from October to June. It will be made through training providers - the details are still being worked out, but they will receive a fee to cover their costs.

Part-time students will also get pound;6,000 over the length of their courses. Those on two-year PGCEs will get about pound;330 a month between October and June.

The salary is non-taxable for full-timers - part-timers may be taxed depending on other earnings. It will not have to be paid back if the student drops out or later decides not to teach.

Unions were quick to suggest that some graduates would take the money and run. The agency argues it will improve thenumber and quality of applicants. It would also be too bureaucratic to claw back the money - and could make people stay in the classroom for the wrong reasons.

The pound;4,000 one-off "golden hello" to recruits in the shortage subjects of maths, science, technology and modern foreign languages will be taxed. It will be paid after completing the induction year to anyone in a permanent teaching job or on a contract lasting more than a term.

Students on the fast-track recruitment programme will get the salary and any golden hello on top of their pound;5,000 bursary.

The job must be taken up within a year of completing induction - longer if they take time off for pregnancy, to care for a dependant or to take long-term sick leave.

The agency last Friday unveiled a new cinema advert showing a male primary teacher functioning as a diplomat, consultant, psychologist and coach to show the variety of skills recruits should develop.

Letters, 23

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