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Older teachers’ careers destroyed “for the sake of saving a few bucks”

Schools should be more imaginative about harnessing the experience of mature teachers, NASUWT conference told

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Schools should be more imaginative about harnessing the experience of mature teachers, NASUWT conference told

Older teachers are being forced out of schools that “despise and debase” their expertise, a union conference has heard.

Delegates at the NASUWT conference this afternoon raised concerns about the number of mature teachers being “singled out” for redundancy, often because they cost more than younger colleagues.

Faye Mylward, of North East Hampshire, described it as “wilful vandalism of people’s careers” and “an abuse of their mental health”.

'Sudden and humiliating attacks'

She said all but four of the experienced teachers at a local secondary school will have “bailed out” by the end of this year.

She said they were “worn out by constant criticism, the ever more outrageous demands of marking and assessment, and the feeling that whatever you do, you will never satisfy the powers that be”.

Ms Mylward added: “Getting rid of the most expensive means that you can employ an NQT on half the wage.”

She called for school management to be “far more imaginative and positive” about how they use the experience and wisdom of mature teachers, rather than “despising and debasing” their expertise.

Christine Knight, of Leeds, said older teachers’ careers were being destroyed “for the sake of saving a few bucks”.

She told delegates that, every week, she saw older teachers suffering “sudden and humiliating attacks on their abilities”.

Making the most of experience

“They are distraught and distressed and it often leads onto physical problems such as heart problems and blood pressure… Quite often, unable to endure all of this, teachers opt for a settlement agreement as a last-ditch attempt to salvage their carer and their sanity,” she added.

Tim Wasdell, a member of the NASUWT executive, called for schools to recognise the value of older teachers.

“We are experienced," he said. "We still have a lot of offer. We know what we are doing. We will give you our advice and support and experience that we have gained over the years. It’s there for you. Use it. Use the more than 40 years' of teaching experience that I have got.”

Delegates instructed the union’s national executive to carry out research on age discrimination faced by middle and older age teachers, and continue to give them assertiveness training.

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