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More coal for Cinders to carry

Your article by Malcolm Wicks "Bright future will give teachers real rewards" (TES, March 30) caught my attention as I am a teacher in further education. At present, FE teachers earn pound;4,000 to pound;6,000 per annum less than schoolteachers, carry out 20 per cent more contact teaching and have only 35 days' annual holiday compared to a teacher's 60. I am not suggesting that schoolteachers are underworked as I am married to a secondary teacher and know what hard work it is.

The Right Honourable Malcolm says we "can expect ... increases of up to pound;2,000" by 2003-4. Putting aside the fact that I expect peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind every year and am annually disappointed, this is not really very encouraging. If schoolteachers do not receive any extra money in the next three years FE teachers will only be paid pound;2,00 per annum less. The issues of workload and holiday are not going to be addressed.

What this means is that no young teacher in hisher right mind will take a job in FE now or ever again and the colleges can only be staffed by dross composed of either teachers who are unemployable in institutions which take education seriously or "business" people who are so useless that no business would want them. Students who can stay in school will, very sensibly, do so and those (our lifelong learners) who cannot, will have to accept the modern equivalent of Dotheboys Hall.

In the Seventies and Eighties FE was referred to as the Cinderella sector. The RH Malcolm, like any wicked stepmother, seems determined to heap more coals on our head than Cinders even saw.

Neil J Phillips 11 Bassett Road Bognor, Sussex

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