Letters extra: why is it so difficult to become a teacher?

7th September 2001 at 01:00

I write to express frustration over the difficulties I have encountered trying to enter teaching. I am a 27-year-old graduate with five years' experience in the corporate world, but feel that primary teaching would be a more suitable for me. I have good GCSEs and A-levels, and a degree in French and music.

I could not afford the offer of pound;6,000 to undertake a PGCE course because, with mortgage commitments, I would not be able to survive. I therefore decided to pursue an employment-based route via the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP).

Unfortunately I have been told that I may not be accepted because my specialist subject is music. I also understand that men and ethnic-minority applicants are more likely to receive GTP funding. Surely the fact that I am a willing graduate with expertise in my chosen subject who can bring enthusiasm and experience to a school should get me on the programme?

In addition, the 25-page application form seems designed to put off both training schools and applicants. One might be forgiven for thinking there is no teacher shortage after all.

I was, for example, initially advised by the Teacher Training Agency that there existed a list of willing training schools. However, I discovered that this did not exist after all.

After writing to many schools, I realised that awareness of the GTP is extremely low. Schools also appear reluctant to accept that the programme could work.

I now feel obliged to press on without trying to achieve qualified teacher status, thereby limiting myself to the independent sector.

From this month I will be filling a short-term music-teaching post in an independent boys' school until a permanent teacher arrives next January. For the remainder of the year the school is taking me on as a Year 2 classroom assistant so that I can build up my practical experience and take it with me to another independent school which will employ me without a teaching qualification.

Elizabeth Emson
Englefield Green,

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