Forget the money, I want an easier life

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Some department heads are 'downshifting' due to stress, reports Ceri Williams

Elizabeth Reeves is about to give up her job as head of modern languages and take a pay cut of up to pound;11,000-a-year because of her workload.

The 49-year-old, who has taught for 26 years - 12 of them at the 930-pupil Coloma convent girls' school in Croydon, Surrey, will soon work four days a week in the department.

She earns around pound;30,000-a-year, working a 50-to-70 hour week, and the change will mean a drop in wages to around pound;19,000 to pound;20,000 when she returns to the teaching ranks.

"The Government seems to recognise at long last that teachers are not just interested in pay but also better conditions of service but they are slow to listen and for the immediate future I can see no end to the unremitting workload.

"There is also no really strong voice from the unions so I will vote with my feet. My colleagues think it is a good thing and the senior management are sympathetic. The problem is they don't have any time themselves, there is no slack in the system.

"Teaching used to be a wonderful job for young women but now it is quite the reverse with an impossible workload."

She has no children but said the workload puts a strain on personal relationships. "I also want to give more time to my elderly parents who are in their 80s."

Andrew Penney is also due to give up his job as head of information communication technology and take a pound;4,000-a-year pay cut to become a classroom teacher because he is frustrated by the lack of resources in the system.

The 44-year-old has been a teacher for 22 years - 14 at Longford community school in Feltham, Middlesex, named as one of the Government's 50 most improved schools in the country. But from September, after 10 years as head of ICT earning pound;28,500 a year, his pay will drop to pound;24,500 as a maths and information technology teacher at the 782-pupil Royal Manor comprehensive school in Portland, Dorset.

He said: "I wanted to increase the use of ICT in the school but we didn't have the means to achieve it. This has gone on for eight years and everyone said 'just give it up, it is not down to you'. I wanted the kids to have the best but I feel I can't give them the best so I thought I would let someone else do it."

He was prevented from doing his job because he had to teach maths for a lot of the time due to staff shortages in the maths department, he said.

Have your say on 'downshifting' at

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