"Supply and be damned" (TES, 8 November) rightly paints a gloomy picture of the financial plight faced by teachers without contracts. It has, however, been thus for at least the past three years.
Upon losing my job when my school closed (I was then on a fixed-term contract), I could not claim unemployment benefit in any week for which I had worked - however little the amount of work - and I could not claim unless "actively seeking work" (which I was) in teaching. I was, however, told I had to take any job - not just teaching - and that would have meant not being able to do supply work, or indeed apply for teaching jobs except in the long term. Hence I was not an unemployment statistic but neither was I employed for nearly half a year.
What really upsets me, though, is the greed of teachers who decide to retire, often on enhanced pensions, and then after the statutory month's break grab all the supply work they can, thus depriving those who not only don't have the option to retire early but actually want to work full-time and who, in the case of mature teachers, have a lot of expertise, dedication, knowledge and stability to offer a school.
In the case of women, that means no risk of disruption from maternity leave or taking time off with sick young children; in the case of men, it often means bringing a mature male role figure on to the staff in a climate where such people are desperately needed.
Choosing retirement should mean just that. If one can afford to choose, then make way for aspiring teachers to get back and work.
CE JONES 23 Manchester Drive Telford Shropshire