HARD though it may be for those whose pay packets never include a recognition of effort beyond the call of duty to be pleased, the bonuses being paid to some Worcester teachers is important news for all today.

The fact that more than 2,500 youngsters have benefited from the effort being rewarded explains why.

It's also worth reflecting on the profound effect good teaching and good teachers can have on communities and the community as a whole, not just for the duration of a pupil's school life, but for generations.

Though teachers remain in one school far less than they used to, these days, they often find themselves providing the shape to lives which can be so sadly lacking in the home.

Good habits and a positive attitude are life skills which carry a child through the maelstrom of puberty and into adulthood, of course.

By the time the fruits of good school years emerge in the shape of young adults better prepared for the big wide world, the community will have forgotten most of the brief moments, and the little deeds which have made it possible.

But it's worth all of us dwelling on the man or woman whose word or action in the classroom proved pivotal in years gone by.

It's also worth acknowledging that, while the teachers being rewarded will be pleased with their bonuses, conversations we've had with other members of the profession suggest that the sense of vocation and achievement which once ran right through the ranks needs rekindling.

We must not forget, either, that teacher shortages are a very real problem, a crisis which brings with it the risk of good work being undone.

Whenever Tony Blair calls the next election, he and Education Secretary David Blunkett must demonstrate that they will keep the standard rising - and make the job an attractive one again to newcomers. For all our sakes, it has to happen.