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'Having a family means I can't afford to stay in teaching'

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Deep down, I always knew I would become a teacher. It started when I was about six, when I helped my neighbour get up to scratch with maths. Babysitting a few years later was followed by tutoring.

I fell in love with secondary education when I was a language assistant. Then thirteen years ago, I trained as a teacher and made the decision to teach in a less affluent area. I helped train new teachers and steadily climbed up the middle-management ladder.

I was well paid. Money was never tight. I could travel, save money, have hobbies, eat nice food and buy my first home with my husband.

It all changed when we started a family. We now have four young children and childcare costs are considerably higher than my salary.

As a teacher, I make a direct contribution to society. I find it illogical to lose the privilege to shape the minds of younger generations because I have children myself. How can it cost me more money to pay for childcare than I would earn by teaching?

Teaching is not my job; it is my vocation and it has been taken away from me. I adore my own children, and I want to spend time with them, but I also want to pursue my career on a part-time basis. Is that too much to ask?

Do you have to move to a private school when you are a teacher with a large family? Do you have to go on to tutoring, or completely give up your career?

I cannot afford to teach and it saddens me. It makes me feel angry and undervalued, too. When you do not just see teaching as a job, but as a vocation, you make a difference to young people's lives. I am a passionate teacher, yet I was forced to quit my job.

How true is this of others? Can you afford to teach?

Mel Knibb is a French teacher in North London. She also writes a blog about life with a large family, food, photography and allergies at Le Coin de Mel 



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