Labour prime minister's pledge on teachers' pay

31st October 1997 at 00:00
The Government needs to address two important issues if it is to be effective in its drive to recruit teachers (TES, October 17).

The first is clearly salaries. I left a post in industry and entered the teaching profession in 1975 when there was a shortage of science teachers, the last time we had a Labour government. At that time there was a review of salaries and James Callaghan said that teachers' pay should never be allowed to fall behind again. My salary on entering teaching was the same as I earned in industry, actually the average figure in the Royal Society of Chemistry annual salary survey which is age and qualifications-related. After a reasonably successful teaching career to date I find that I have fallen behind. Young graduates will want to know the New Labour view on salaries before entering the teaching profession.

The second relates to the demands of the job. Teaching is very challenging and rewarding but job satisfaction is constantly eroded by increasing bureaucracy. It seems that the only thing some teachers do not have to write down is what they intend to have on their sandwiches at lunchtime. Does our Government want teachers to concentrate on teaching children effectively or on generating paperwork? There is probably an inverse relationship between the quantity of documents produced and quality of teaching in the classroom.

These two issues would have prevented me advising my own children from considering teaching after they graduated and were factors in them choosing other careers.

TERRY HAYES 28 Hawthorn Drive Eccleston St Helens

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