Gillian Shephard's crocodile tears and false sentiments about teachers are far too much, too late (Platform, TES, January 24). For a politician who, in the past, has castigated teachers at every turn to state "Teachers are highly skilled, highly educated and a highly respected profession" is quite sickening, especially as she and her political colleagues have manipulated the press through their anti-educational lobby.
It does her little credit at this late date to try to build bridges which her party has destroyed at every opportunity.
Eighty per cent of teachers are retiring before 60 because of the changing nature of the job and the extra demands being placed on them; education is no longer a job to grow old in.
Surprisingly, we do not hear the Home Secretary saying similar things about the police service; they can retire after 30 years' service and certainly are not expected to work after 55 years of age. They also receive a pension of two-thirds final pay. For teachers to receive a pension of half pay they have to complete 40 years' service.
The problem with the teachers' pension scheme remains that successive governments have mismanaged the whole thing, yet it must be possible to address this problem and put it right for all parties, if all contributions were invested on the advice of an independent actuary.
E ORME Headteacher St Mary's C of E Primary School (7-11) Clare Road Stanwell Staines Middlesex