TRAINEE teachers will be paid a salary for the first time in a pound;70 million government drive to end the recruitment crisis.
Post-graduate trainees will receive pound;6,000 a year - equivalent to pound;150 a week during term-time. Those in shortage subjects - maths, science, technology and modern foreign languages - will get pound;10,000. Schools will also be offered big cash incentives to take mature entrants for on-the-job training.
Ministers have finally bowed to pressure from universities and headteachers, who have long pressed for trainee salaries in the face of plummeting graduate interest in teaching. The cash to fund trainees' wages comes from Gordon Brown's pound;1 billion Budget injection into education last week.
Salaries will be paid to all secondary trainees from this September and will be trialled for one year in primaries, where recruitment is falling steadily but is not yet - quite - in crisis.
Ministers hope the quick start will turn round this year's dire recruitment figures - down 14 per cent for secondary trainees, and falling for the eighth year running. But the benefits are more likely to be felt in the longer term.
In primaries, they hope to attract men, who make up only one in seven primary teachers.
The teacher trainee rate compares favourably with the pound;5,000 a year nurses get during ther three-year courses. But trainee police officers start on almost pound;17,000.
Department for Education and Employment officials blame the buoyant job market for the decline in recruitment. "Graduates are in high demand," one said.
Even the pound;5,000 "golden hellos" introduced in 1998 for maths and science trainees have failed. After last year's rise in applications, numbers this year were back to the same level before the scheme began.
The DFEE hopes the combination of trainee salaries and the new performance pay scheme - that allows classroom teachers to earn up to pound;30,000 a year - will be enough to pull in good recruits. A spokesperson said. "With these measures, teaching is a much more attractive career choice."
The package was welcomed by recruitment analyst and TES columnist Professor John Howson who has been calling for a trainee salary for five years. He said:
"I would expect to see a 20 per cent rise in recruitment as a result of this. It may do better. But in future, the salary is going to have to rise to pound;9,000 or pound;10,000.".
In a major relaunch of on-the-job training, schools will be told they can hire trainees as extra staff rather than using them to fill vacancies - something heads had been reluctant to do.
The schools will get pound;13,500 to cover the trainee's salary. This will be on top of pound;4,500 paid to their local authorities to cover training costs.