Can I afford to be a teacher?

14th September 2001 at 01:00
IT is of no great surprise to me, going into my second year in the classroom, that teachers are leaving after three years.

I graduated in 1999 from Durham University with a 2:1 and about pound;7,000 in debt, (despite working through my summers in laborious jobs). I reached Cambridge University in the September to do a PGCE, leaving with the confidence to teach and about pound;10,000 in debt.

By the time I had taken out a graduate loan to set me up and pay off a huge credit card bill and overdraft, the debt had crept up to about pound;14,000.

For the first three months, I was happy to work and delighted to be contributing to the household in which I lived. But by November, large instalments were being taken out to pay for my loans. Travelling by train to school soon turned into a disaster with the various delays last year and, in order to arrive before the children and in a reasonable state to teach, I had to get a car.

So a year later, I am left with pound;210 per month to buy food, petrol, the odd piece of clothing and school materials.

I don't want to be considered as one of the thousands of moaning teachers who hate their job and hate the pay. I love my job and I look forward to going to school on a Monday to inspire children to learn. But how long can I afford to do this?

Should I be grateful that I am in a job I love or do I get out of teaching and train to work in the City where I know the pay would be double, allowing me to pay off my debt and afford to go out with my friends and, at 23, have a social life? It's a question I repeatedly ask myself!

Claire Reeves 50 Hurst Grove Bedford

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