Driven to despair and to depart

19th May 1995 at 01:00
How on earth can the Teachers' Pension Agency be rejecting retirement applications on health grounds from staff who are obviously at the end of their tethers (TES, May 5)? It is no light decision for a teacher to make and anyone who does so should be allowed to leave without his or her mental state being further endangered by the ever-growing fear that the application will be rejected.

I am at present in this situation, and after reading the article feel even more despairing that my own application will be turned down. The waiting period between making the application and a final decision is bad enough, but reading that "most of the applications on the basis of stress are being turned down" is really distressing. I am beginning to fear that I may end up without a job or a pension, because I will not be able to afford to pay a consultant for a second opinion should my application be rejected.

I have worked as a primary teacher since 1968, taking a brief time out to have a family whom I have brought up virtually single-handed. (My ex-husband has since died.) I can no longer cope as a full-time class teacher and two months ago completely caved in. Over the past few years I have experienced a slow build-up of pressure and frustration combined with feelings of claustrophobia and despair which all suddenly came to a head. My confidence suddenly deserted me and I no longer know what I am doing.

Experience is no longer valued - instead, one's capabilities are measured in meaningless jargon on endless pieces of paper. If the child wriggles under the microscope, make sure it is recorded in triplicate.

I can stand it no longer. I am a teacher, not a pen-pusher; a communicator, not a bureaucrat. I can no longer work in a profession where "bums on seats" seems to be the order of the day, where political correctness and paperwork have gone berserk and where senior management teams - especially in small schools - have created a policy of "divide and rule". My morale has been completely undermined, and my self-confidence gradually eroded. Trying to teach 10 subjects to the required standards required to unresourced and overcrowded classes has become a living nightmare.

I know that I am sorely missed at my school by pupils and parents - not to mention my colleagues - who all wish me a speedy recovery and want me to return, but my instinct for self-preservation has finally overcome the call of duty, I'm afraid.

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