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Letters extra: what happened to my pay rise?

This is the month in which teachers countrywide find a rise in their pay packets, myself included. As an NQT, I was expectingnbsp;6 per cent, which was going to be very welcomenbsp;as I live in an expensive area.

However, my rise was pound;7. Why? Because I had reckoned without the Student Loans Company. I completed my PGCE in English in 19992000, after spending a year working in "the real world". This meant, however, that I had to take out a loan of about pound;900 a term in order to cover living costs of the PGCE year rather than be eligible for a grant; had I completed my PGCE in 19982000 I would have been eligible for this grant. It seems I did my PGCE in the wrong year - had I delayed two years after graduating and started in September 2000, I would have been given a pound;6,000 training salary. I think I am correct in saying I would also get a pound;4,000 golden hello.

In short, because of the subject I studied and the year in which I studied it, I have accrued debts of pound;2,700, whereas colleagues completing PGCEs the year before and the year after me, have none. The Student Loan Company takes repayments from my salary, regardless of the fact that I do not start paying back my degree loans until April 2002 because I do not earn enough. Thus pound;54 vanished from my salary this month, leaving me a pound;7 pay increase.

I do not think I will be alone when I say this just seems to be the latest in a long line of bungles by the Government in attracting new recruits to teaching. The sad thing is that it isn't just me, it's probably thousands of others who stared at their pay slip in disbelief and phoned the Student Loans Company only to end up punching the sofa cushions in frustration.

Ruth Powell Reading

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