Headlines: January 8th, 2001

The drive to improve education standards has come under threat from unfilled teacher posts and disaffected pupils. The most acute problems arise in low attaining Secondary schools which have difficulty both in filling posts and problem pupils. Low attaining schools are to receive up to 70,000 pounds to allow them to pay recruitment and retention bonuses to teachers, as well as to adopt other measures.The rising level of teacher vacancies in London and South East England resulting from labour market competition and high living costs is causing increasing concern and new money is likely to be injected to ease the situation. It is expected that an impending pay deal will include retention bonuses of up to 5000 pounds to newly qualified teachers in areas of recruitment difficulty. London weighting is also likely to be increased by one third.

Additional funding is also being targeted at truancy and indiscipline. The 174 million pound budget has been increased by a quarter compared to last year and it is ten times greater than in 1996/97. The funds will be spent on providing more teachers for pupils excluded from school for bad behaviour and truancy reduction measures. These include employing support staff to telephone parents when a pupil does not appear at school recruiting learning mentors to improve attendance and tackle bullying and disaffection.