Headlines: March 14th, 2001

A package of measures has been launched to encourage the recruitment and retention of teachers. A 200 m pound budget will be allocated over the next three years to schools in in teacher shortage areas to be spent at local discretion. Other measures are aimed at reducing the administrative burden on teachers.The new funding will be targeted on schools in high cost or challenging areas, enabling headteachers to develop solutions such as: housing subsidies, childcare support, or travel costs, or make additional salary payments to improve recruitment and retention. There will also be a “welcome back” bonus for qualified teachers who have been out of teaching for more than a year and return to the profession between Easter and Christmas.

An early benefit from the Department for Education and Employment’s drive to cut the time teachers have to spend out of the classroom is that information sent to schools has been reduced by 50% compared to last year. In a further move to reduce form filling a system for storing and sharing information electronically will be made available. Around 2000 schools have been trialling the new system and have found that it reduces the time needed to compile information which can then be readily provided to parents, inspectors, Education Authorities and the Government quickly via computer. The system also improves the sharing of information for pupils transferring from Primary to Secondary schools.