Loans hype is just perk for the few

I have just gained my postgraduate certificate in education in secondary geography. I really enjoy teaching, I love my subject and I can't wait to start my new job in September.

I can't imagine doing anything else, so when I was thinking about teaching I was delighted to hear that the Government was going to pay off teachers'

student loans.

I would never have been able to do a degree without taking a full loan every year. I also took a full student loan and a professional studies loan to pay for my PGCE. The pound;6,000 that the Government pays is a bonus but nowhere near the actual cost of doing the qualification.

So I was really disappointed, although not overly surprised, when half-way through my final placement a circular came round telling trainees of the "good news" about the Government's plans to pay off student loans.

Shortage subject teachers will be getting 10 per cent of their loans paid off each year while they stay in teaching. But I am not a shortage subject teacher. I do not qualify for this, or for a golden hello, and I don't often qualify for recruitment and retention points.

This means that I am earning a lot less than people with the same qualifications as me, who choose to teach a different subject. The foundation subjects are suffering at the moment in more ways than one and this difference in wages is just adding to the problems.

As far as I can see this policy will only create shortages in the foundation subjects and will do little to improve the image of those subjects already struggling to attract teachers.

The Government is not paying every new teacher's loans off, but it is still advertising this misconception in an attempt to attract new recruits.

When I start earning in September I am going to have less spare cash than when I was at university. I want to be good at my job and would love to do a part-time master of teaching degree, but unless my new school is willing to pay for it I will not be able to afford it.

I don't think I would have changed my mind about going into the profession if I'd known about not getting my loans paid off, but I don't want others to be in the position that I am now in financially. If you're not a shortage subject teacher then you are on your own.

Laura McQuade

4 Gorse Lane


Sleaford, Lincolnshire

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