NEWLY-qualified English teacher Ruth Smith is attempting to pay off more than pound;6,000 of student loans on a salary which equates to just pound;6.60 an hour.
Ms Smith, who started work at Bungay high school, Suffolk, last September, has expressed her frustration over a 66-hour working week in a letter to Education Secretary David Blunkett.
During term, she puts in 40 hours at school, plus three hours' marking and preparation each weekday and Saturdays, and an eight-hour day on Sundays.
Her salary as a new teacher is pound;17,000. Her hourly rate, taking into account the pay she receives in the school holidays, is only pound;2.50 above the proposed new national minimum wage of pound;4.10.
Ms Smith has writtento Mr Blunkett pleading with him to pay off her student debt of pound;6389.73. She is distraught that, having qualified in 2000, she missed out out on the pound;6,000 training grants that all postgraduate teaching students now get. Students starting teaching next year in shortage subjects, including English, are also in line to have their student loans paid off should they remain teaching in state schools for 10 years.
Ms Smith writes:"I trained with many committed and excellent teachers. However, there is no incentive for us to stay (in the profession).
"Please do something for those of us who enjoy our jobs and want to improve education, but may not be able to fund ourselves for much longer."