No scrappage of older teachers

12th June 2009 at 01:00

I write regarding your report last Friday, "Should older teachers move over to let young ones in?", based on my speech to the GTC Scotland education conference on professionalism. This speech focused principally on the strengths of the teaching profession and on ways in which improved support, CPD and collegiality could enhance professionalism in the future. The part of my speech you quote has therefore been taken out of context.

As you know, I preceded the remarks you quoted with a serious and heartfelt endorsement of the extensive skills that more experienced teachers bring to the classroom and of the central role they play in our schools.

What I went on to convey was that, despite this expertise, some experienced teachers would now like to retire from the profession but that opportunities often do not exist for them to do so because of the current economic situation. At the same time, as the recent GTC Scotland survey into employment prospects for probationer teachers shows, there are many talented young teachers unable to enter the profession because of a lack of jobs.

The point I was making in my speech, and I think those who attended the conference understood this, is that we need to find a balance between those with valuable experience but limited time left in the profession and those who will carry the torch forward for the next 20 to 30 years. As in any profession, there are some people who are skilled and fully motivated to take up the challenge of change, and others who are less so; we therefore need to plan carefully for the future.

I would never suggest that older teachers are "scrapped": they have too much to offer the profession.

Anthony Finn, chief executive, General Teaching Council for Scotland.

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