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Letters extra: Recruitment

Nepotism? Since qualifying as a primary school teacher in August 1997, I have made 250 job applications and applied to go on 10 NQT primary pools, (records of my applications are available). I have attended approximately 30 interviews but received expenses for perhaps only five, may I add usually after many months of waiting! In my mind the whole system is run by people with minimal experience of working in the real world. At interviews do the panel feel threatened by me or the fact that I am different from the norm, having worked in the commercial world for 10 years and running my own business for three years? Or is it just because I am not related to or do not personally know anyone in the profession? In my experience that usually appears to be a deciding factor. Sarah Walter Lynmead Church Road Leckhampton Glos GL51 5XR Willing to teach, but . . . I am a graduate in history. I love my subject and I would love to teach it. However, the introduction of 'qualifying tests' for trainee teachers puts me off applying to do a PGCE. Why? Because it is yet another hurdle the government has put in the way and I fail to see the relevance of needing to be numerate for my subject. Will a qualifying test make me - or anybody wishing to teach at secondary level in subjects other than Maths - a better teacher? No! PGCE applicants should be assessed on their personal qualities and experience. (Relevance of degree too, of course.) Teaching is so much more than being capable of passing a petty test. Recruitment crisis? No wonder! Yours faithfully Paul McPhearson 17 Elmwood Drive Middlesbrough Cleveland Do those 'who can', teach? I am a final year English undergraduate at Loughborough University and have always hoped to pursue a career in primary school teaching. Over the past four years I have taken what I believed were the necessary steps to ensure that my future career in this profession is secured. This includes voluntary work at a local primary school whilst at sixth form and spending a summer working for a holiday play-scheme for young children. I am currently assisting with classroom activities at a primary school in Loughborough. Without being over-confident, I believe that my past experience combined with a strong academic record would indicate that I would be a sound candidate. To my dismay, in spite of the apparent teacher shortage constantly highlighted in the media over recent months, my efforts to gain a place on teaching programmes have come to no avail. In September 2000, I applied for a primary PGCE course through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry at four institutions with the following outcomes: 1. Loughborough University - course cancelled without substantial warning or advertisement. Informed of cancellation through GTTR 2. Nottingham Trent University - rejected after interview without feedback 3. Warwick University - rejected before interview 4. Leicester University - rejected before interview You can imagine my frustration and disappointment at the outcome of these applications after so much effort and preparation. Determined to find an alternative route into my chosen career, I contacted the Teacher Training Agency for help and advice and was informed of the Graduate Teaching Programme. Delighted, I explored the possibility of entering the profession through this programme. After contacting the Leicestershire Education Authority and writing letters to primary schools in the area, my hopes were dashed once again when I was informed that, at twenty-one years old, my age would prevent me from entering the programme. Is my only option to re-try in three years time when my age is no longer a barrier? I am disgusted that David Blunkett has spent the taxpayers money in advertisements; informing the public that 'those who can, teach'. In my experience, it is clearly an uphill struggle for enthusiastic candidates like myself to enter the profession. I am writing to you in the hope that you will highlight my experience to the public. As a commercial tool, I am confident in the media's ability to do this. I look forward to hearing from you. Maria Egan 3 Ashleigh Drive Loughborough Leics LE11 3HNnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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