It's the career they want - despite the doubters

27th August 1999 at 01:00
PRIMARY teaching may not have a high profile among twentysomethings with degrees tucked under their arms but fortunately some have never wanted to do anything else. Undeterred by gibes about long holidays and endless colouring-in, the call to the classroom remains strong.

Ashley Thomson, aged 22, Elaine Cusick, 20, and James Docherty, 26, typify the eagerness and vitality of recruits to Glasgow schools and underline why schools want young blood. All three began careers in city primaries last week only three months after completing their four-year training courses.

The city may or may not be the toughest place to teach in Scotland but these Glaswegians never wanted to work anywhere else. In return, long-term permanent supply contracts and guaranteed continuous work are their entry to the profession.

Ms Thomson wanted to be a primary teacher since high school. "I think I just had good experiences at primary school and I enjoy working with children," she says.

Ms Cusick echoes that. "I never wanted to do anything else. People have tried to put me off but they had no effect."

Mr Docherty was studying quantity surveying at Glasgow Caledonian University, realised it was not for him and transferred to a BEd at St Andrew's College, now the faculty of education at Glasgow University.

"I just love it," he says confidently. "I think it's an absolutely phenomenal job and we have got such a responsibility. It's your personality and your ideas in a classroom that rub off on the kids. No one day is the same."

The trio knew in their final months of training that permanent, full-time contracts were scarce unless they were prepared to head south of the border.

Ms Cusick pronounces herself "quite happy" with a starting salary of around pound;13,000, although she will be forced to live at home for the first year at least to settle debts from student days.

Ms Thomson admits it is common for new teachers to be up to pound;3,000 in debt. She believes the issue of salaries will have to be addressed since "the most important resource are the teachers".

As ever, classroom discipline is the number one concern and there are worries about how children will react if they are not on the permanent staff. They have been around schools in the west of Scotland over four years and appreciate the challenge.

All want to complete the two-year probationary period as quickly as possible and take it from there. Glasgow has given them a start and they are, as Ms Thomson says, "bursting to go".

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