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pound;3,000 to spend on yourself

HAVING cash to spend on their own training needs has helped Liz Curtis and Ali Hodgson into the jobs they wanted when they started teaching less than three years ago.

The pair, colleagues at Sydenham girls' school in Lewisham, south London, believe all new teachers should have the same opportunities.

The Government's pilot early professional development programme gave them each around pound;2,000 last year and pound;1,000 this. Lewisham told them to be innovative.

Ms Curtis, 28, knew she wanted to work with children with emotional and behavioural problems. So she went on behaviour management courses, visited another school's unit, studied inner-city schools in New York state, and now wants to shadow a youth offending team and visit local special schools.

It all helped prepare her for her current post, as second in charge of Sydenham's social inclusion unit.

"Teaching is a difficult job, you don't get a lot of the incentives that people in other careers get. It's nice to get some kind of perk and to use it to further your own development," she said.

"It was very important to be in charge of the money. I wouldn't have had the motivation or interest to do things someone else set up for me."

Ms Hodgson, 34, wanted to work on pastoral issues and is now acting head of Year 9. Her cash went on training, working with a head of year, buying resources, and developing a project on attendance. "I have friends teaching in other boroughs who feel they haven't progressed as they would have liked to, yet I have gone through the roof," she said.

"It's motivated me because I was able to get extra training in areas I was interested in. I was approached to take the job, not the other way round, and I think a lot of it is because of the EPD I have had."

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