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Driven to tear out grey hair

The report (TES, September 13) citing statistical evidence about new appointments by age group gives space to the old favourite that mature entrants are less flexible than other candidates.

In my own case, one temporary contract in four years and two bulging, but well-organised, A4 files of fruitless applications persuade me to suggest otherwise. Before we go any further, let me add that one head described my application as "impeccable" and a manager described my work as "eminently suitable".

I have applied for posts across four counties and sometimes have been able to fulfil even the most bizarre requirements regarding subject specialisms and other experience. This year one of my students gained his desired university place having been taught by me for two of his A-level subjects (neither of which was my degree subject).

I was flexible enough to travel 60 miles to the one school prepared to offer me a temporary post and I know I am not going to take maternity leave. I currently manage the needs of my own family and the demands of three employers in further and higher education. I have just completed yet another curriculum design and specification for two hours' teaching. I still find time for bursts of academic work and in-service training as well as opportunities for my own personal career development.

At an interview for a temporary post for January 1996, I was told that I didn't show middle-management potential, as were the other two candidates (both newly qualified teachers). Surprise, surprise, the school appointed none of us to this post and chose to reappoint the retiring member of staff on a part-time basis. When the post came up as a permanent post for September, the school was quick to appoint a young student still in training.

It's about time someone stood up and admitted what everyone knows: that quality as an accountable attribute is no longer part of the reckoning. I love teaching, have received a good inspection and have many more years to give, but hourly paid (this year at Pounds 5 per hour less than last) "no contract" work is destroying me.

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