And debt comes too at start of first job

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Most newly qualified teachers begin their career with debts of between Pounds 7,000 and pound;10,500, according to a report.

The survey revealed that many newly qualified teachers have built up significant credit card debts during their initial training course, and many were forced to take part-time jobs before beginning their NQT year.

The survey, conducted by Education Data Surveys on behalf of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, examined debt incurred by newly qualified teachers during their training period. Almost 900 responded to the questions, which were posed during their first term in the job.

Eighty per cent said that they had carried debt from their first degree into postgraduate teacher training. In some cases, this amounted to thousands of pounds. As a result, more than half had taken on part-time jobs during teacher training. A quarter held these jobs during term-time, with 17 per cent holding down a second job during their school placement.

But few believed that this had affected their training. Forty per cent undertook paid work between the end of their training course and the start of their first NQT post.

The survey said: "The period between the end of the teacher training course and the beginning of paid work as a teacher was once treated as a welcome window of relaxation. This is no longer the case."

Ninety-seven per cent of newly qualified teachers considered that they had made sacrifices in order to embark on their new career. For many, the biggest was in their social lives, with some feeling the loss of time previously spent with friends, partners and family.

Many also felt that their families had suffered because of their new job.

One respondent said: "We raised a mortgage so that my husband could work part-time in order to look after the children."

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "The issue of student debt has been controversial for some time. Financial barriers to teacher education should be minimised in order to attract the range of applicants our schools need."

But seven out of 10 new teachers claimed to be happy with their standard of living. In fact, the rate of satisfaction has improved since previous surveys conducted in 1995-6 and 2000-1.

But it concluded: "What is not clear... is the number of new trainees that will later be forced into alternative careers, attracting better pay, as a result of the debts they accumulated during training."

In some cases, the realities of the job have forced newly qualified teachers to reconsider the sacrifices. One career-changer said: "There's a real discipline problem, and I feel as though I'm wasting my time standing in front of the class. I'm already looking at jobs in the city, and I'm seriously considering going back."

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