Lonely NQTs can't find love

5th November 2004 at 00:00
A new job in teaching brings many things: an inexhaustible supply of whiteboard markers, a staffroom mug... and, it seems, the end of your love life.

While teacher-training colleges offer limitless opportunities to forge new romances over cheap beer, newly-qualified teachers are finding the job itself disastrous for their love and social lives.

One contributor to The TES online staffroom discussion board writes: "I've never felt so lonely as in my new post. I encounter 300 people a week, but they're all aged 16 and below. The only eligible male I get to meet now on a regular basis is the school cleaner."

This is echoed by James Brown, a 23-year-old English teacher at Elizabethan high, in Retford, Nottinghamshire.

"Teaching can be a very lonely job," he said. "On the postgraduate course, it was easy to get to know people. But now, you spend all your time working and preparing for the job.

"When you've been talking to under-16s all day, and you're tired and stressed, it's sometimes difficult to talk to people your own age. Other teachers are the only ones who know the kind of pressure you're under. You feel shut off."

This sense of isolation is often compounded by married colleagues with young children.

Kate Roe, 25, who moved from Cheshire to St Mary's Church of England primary, in Slough, said: "Because I don't know anyone, I take work home. I know I'll be bored otherwise.

"But I don't want to become an old-style spinster teacher who only lives for the job. One NQT I met works in a pub on Sundays, just to meet people and stop talking about education."

Ms Roe has considered joining a gym to meet people. But, with university debts and high accommodation costs, it is a luxury she cannot afford.

Ros Taylor, a leading psychologist, does not believe that new teachers should be reading the last rites to their social lives one term into the job.

"One night a week, go to a gallery, read a book, see a film or play," she said. "That way you'll also have something from the world to bring your pupils."

And she said dating another teacher is not the only solution. "It's common to want to speak about a new job but self-awareness is important. Be aware that you can become a teaching bore. And if your partner doesn't understand, just find a better partner."


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