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SCHOOL CUTS - AND GOLDEN HELLOS

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While hundreds of teachers across England are threatened with redundancy, some headteachers' biggest problem is rec...
While hundreds of teachers across England are threatened with redundancy, some headteachers' biggest problem is recruiting staff, according to The Independent on Sunday (p10).

Nelson Primary School in Newham, east London, is one of many in the south that have to offer new staff a series of sweetners - from golf club membership to 'golden hellos' - just for turning up to teach. The golf package is being offered by Thurrock LEA, while Newham LBC is allowing schools to boost teachers' salaries by up to £1,500.

Tim Benson, head of Nelson Primary School, said the incentives retain some staff who would otherwise leave. However, the school has suffered a £60,000 shortfall this year, which means the loss of a teaching post.

He added: 'I'm relying on six agency teachers. They cost nearly £37,000 a year, with commission, compared with £25,000 - £27,000 for a home-grown teacher.' Those he has hired come from as far afield as New Zealand, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

'They are excellent teachers but they do need help to get to know the national curriculum, and that takes up the established staff's time.'

Mr Benson said that even with the incentives, he is lucky if he gets more than one reply to a recruitment advert. 'There is no incentive for anyone to move to the south. What is needed is a London-wide strategy,' he said.

That is what the government's new London 'education tsar', Professor Tim Brighouse, and Stephen Twigg, DfES minister responsible for London schools, are working on.

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