For the love of the job?

24th February 2006 at 00:00
Teaching is a vocation, therefore we don't need high pay. Surveys apparently back this up too. We do it for the emotional and academic response from pupils; the emotional uplifts; for the time we can spend pursuing a subject we love and yes, for the six-week summer holiday.

But I'm sorry, some of us need the dosh too. Maybe some teachers have a partner who helps balance the books, but some of us drink discount lager on our own as we tune to Channel 4 and try to put the guilt of an excessive mortgage firmly behind us. On the one hand I'm glad I've stretched myself economically; my daughter and I now have our own house and soul-enriching view, but on the other hand I'm finding my direct debits completely debilitating.

Last week I was on a Fast Track residential course for three days and while I get an extra pound;2,000 a year in my pay-packet as a Fast Track sweetener, I still didn't have enough money to go to the bar in the evenings. I was asked if I was joining my colleagues - "Thanks but I'm going to have a bath." Maybe I sounded aloof or just knackered but I wasn't either: I was simply skint; I didn't have any cash and my overdraft and my credit card were at their limit.

I fondly recall the national lottery being launched and my oh-so-knowing, middle-class friends and all demonising it as a tax on the poor. Of course, I've now had a dose of slap-in-the-face reality and yes, I do the lottery and also eagerly enter peak-rate phone call contests to Richard and Judy, and forgettable 2am junk food TV shows.

As I lie in the gutter that is suburban TV gambling (the opium of the overstretched property owner) my moral dilemma is now much more focused and serious: I'm contemplating a career move to a completely different school which promises a pound;5,000 pay rise. Currently I'm in a school where we proudly and hungrily achieve 76 per cent A*-C, but the role of head of department is available in another school just six miles away that achieves 10 per cent A*-C.

The moral dilemma is whether I'm contemplating this move for purely financial reasons or is it because, goddammit, the kids at that 10 per cent school are being let down to an unethical, abhorrent and almost criminal extent. Could I possibly do something to help reverse the fortunes of these kids and the school's statistics? There is also the important professional question of whether I'm up to this cliff-face job - would I be trying to run a marathon before I can even jog to the bus stop? This evening I'll buy a ticket for the Euro lottery, drink two cans of Tennents Extra and then decide tomorrow.

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