I am a teacher who has been in the profession since I left college, and my plan over the past eight years was to retire between 50 and 55 in order to do something else, maybe start my own business or assist my husband in his. As I am not 50 until March 1998, I do not have the opportunity to make a hasty decision over the next three months before the proposed new arrangements come into force.
I agree with all Elaine Williams writes in her article. Although we do need older teachers to provide wisdom and stability, we must make room for the energetic and enthusiastic young newly qualified people. I remember as an NQT myself, working in a fen village, I was the enthusiastic young teacher whose ideas were continually curbed by the less enthusiastic majority of older teachers who, incidentally, were working in the very place where they had gone to school as children.
There are several points in the article to which I would like to add my voice: * the prospect of promotion for all, not just the young ones, will slow down; * the effect of local management of schools has reduced the opportunities for an older, more expensive teacher to move, and this effectively means that the teacher remains "burnt out" and stale instead of a change providing fresh impetus; * teachers of my age and service have been paying into the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme over many years fulfilling an unwritten, but generally acknowledged agreement: if we are earning the money to support our retired colleagues, our younger colleagues would support us when our turn came; * a new set of frustrations will work like a virus in the staffroom if a number of people feel trapped, unable to move and unable to leave. This will affect everyone in the school, especially the children, our future, and those who will, we hope, continue to support us by being employable.
I know what it is like to work alongside teachers who have given their all to the profession and are merely working for their pension. These people should be able to leave with dignity and create space for those following on behind.
The article also made the point that a greater number of redundancies could be made. I am unclear as to what would happen in the case of voluntary retirement when a school is looking to reduce its staff. Would the present arrangement continue? If this were to be the case, perhaps we should all be praying for redundancy situations in our schools to rescue us.
E M S SIMMS Manor Farm Cottage 2 Linford Lane Woolstone, Milton Keynes