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Happy to be back in harness

Staff shortages have shocked a retired teacher into returning to school - and he loves it. Warwick Mansell reports

A RETIRED teacher, who volunteered to return to the classroom because he was so concerned about schools' recruitment problems, is feeling "fabulous" in his new job.

Bill Martin, of Kettering, North-amptonshire, has been away from schools for nearly 20 years. But, after watching a TV report on the area's teacher shortage, he immediately telephoned the local authority to offer his services.

Within hours, he said, seven schools had contacted him. Last week, only four days after his original enquiry, he started work at Grange community primary school, on the outskirts of Kettering.

Mr Martin, 54, last taught in the primary sector in 1981, leaving to take up a job as a further education lecturer. He retired early five years ago.

He said he felt under no pressure to return to teaching, having recently started supplementing his pension by driving for the local authority's mobile library service.

He said: "The TV report said they were looking for retired teachers.

"I thought, 'I'm a retired teacher, so why not?'. I felt very happy in my previous job, but I wanted to put something back, both for myself and for the pofession.

"I've no regrets - last week was one of the best I've ever had in teaching. The head here is brilliant, the school's got a really caring, loving atmosphere and I'm really enjoying it."

With no experience of the national curriculum or the literacy and numeracy hours, Mr Martin said primary teaching was in some ways very different from his previous experience, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

But the school has offered training, including a five-day course on teaching the numeracy strategy.

Head Sue Poolman said Mr Martin's offer was a great relief. She had been tearing her hair out trying to fill the post, having received no applicants since first advertising it last October.

She said the school, which serves a large council estate, faced many challenges. But Mr Martin communicated well and his personality would help him in class.

"It was a bit of a leap in the dark taking him on, to be honest, but I felt immediately that he had the personality to fit into the school and do well here, and I was not wrong," she said.

Mr Martin said his decision meant that he was effectively committing himself to the profession for the next five years, as pension rules have changed so he cannot retire until he is 60.

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