A class of my own

27th November 1998 at 00:00
There must be something wrong with me. I can see it in people's eyes. It happens in that split second between explaining that I have just qualified as an English teacher (obviously a madness in itself) and that: "No, I haven't actually got a job yet."

"But isn't there a teacher shortage," I see them internally say: "Ahhh, there must be something wrong with her. She must be a failed something or other. Bet she didn't get very good A-levels." Then comes the moment I hate most of all - I start trying to justify why I haven't got a job, a school, my own little classroom.

(Inhale) WELL (it always begins) you see . . . while I was completing my PGCE, my partner and I planned to move. And, him earning more than me . . . (yes - advertising pays more than teaching) he applied for jobs first, so then I could apply for a job in the same area. Well . . . by then, summer had nearly gone, along with most of the vacancies, and . . . well, that's it really. Convenient explanation I know, but it's true. Although I'm beginning to doubt it myself.

The truth is I love teaching. I love English. I even quite like teenagers. I passed my PGCE, there is no black mark against my name, my teaching feedback was positive - so why am I the only unemployed English teacher in the land?

Every week I eagerly scan The TES, and every Friday evening I become depressed because, while I moved from down South to up North, teaching vacancies went the opposite way. Yorkshire teachers must love their jobs so much that they just don't want to move to another school, gain promotion, or become ill, or pregnant (please - even nine months' teaching would be nice).

So I am an NQUT - a newly qualified unemployed teacher. Like an actor I am just resting, between schools, catching up with attainment targets, re-evaluating my teaching practice. Until the magical day I am allowed a classroom of my own, and can tell everyone my occupation with pride.

Lisa Oakley lives in Huby, near Leeds.

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