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Pain threshold

As an infant teacher for more than 20 years, I used to tell young teachers to enjoy the children in their care, laugh with them, be proud of their achievements. But my advice from now on will be: join a union and become obsessed with collecting evidence of good teaching. Why?

For the past six months, with three other colleagues, I had to wait to prove I deserved to move to upper pay-scale 2. I believe we were the only school in the country where all of the entitled staff were refused.

It became a matter of principle - certainly not money. As a part-time teacher I have spent the increase and back pay in defending myself by preparing evidence and making phone calls. And how much has it "cost" in stress and anxiety?

We won our appeals.

I now have to spend another two years collecting evidence should I wish to progress again.

Helen Stewart 31 The Maples Harlow, Essex

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