How to alienate a committed recruit

21st November 1997 at 00:00
I read with some consternation the article about Tony Blair's enlisting of Alec Reed to help solve the teacher supply crisis (TES, November 7), particularly the alleged proposal to increase the statutory number of hours teachers work so that teachers could request productivity-related pay.

I am in my third year of teaching, having had a previously successful career as an efficient and extremely competent secretary administrator.

I left that career to do a degree. I achieved an upper second in information technology and maths, followed by the PGCE junior course. I am supposedly the type of person the Government is trying to attract into teaching.

Well, I am here and what have I discovered?

I am doing as much paperwork now as I did in my previous career and, on occasion, feel swamped, but I am also teaching. My salary is almost the same as when I left my previous career seven years ago. I cannot leave school at the end of a day - a day which for me and most of my colleagues begins between 7.45am and 8am and ends between 5.30pm and 5.45pm - not to mention boxes or files of work to do at home, often working until late evening.

The long holidays all teachers get are usually taken up with taking down displays and putting up new ones, moving the classroom around, checking equipment and resources, using assessments to inform my next round of planning, reading new material on education or subject-specific research. I do manage a couple of weeks off if I'm lucky.

I am relatively new to the profession but I am aware that teachers are now feeling that they have, for too many years, been expected to do all the extra hours for free. I do not know of any teacher who works less than 50-60 hours a week.

I went into teaching because I feel I have skills which would help me to do the job well and I would be able to help and support children as they acquire the skills to become literate and numerate adults, and that I would get some measure of job satisfaction. How can politicians be so blind that they cannot see that they have a committed body of competent professionals who have been worked to such a point that they cannot take much more. The silicon chip for the development of technology was a historical event. I hope this Government does not go down in history as the one which destroyed the "goodwill chip" in teaching.

L M PEARSON

7 Cooper Road

Dargets Wood

Chatham

Kent

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