Nothing here to tempt teachers

20th July 2001 at 01:00
A number of old friends gathered in a pub last weekend for an annual get-together. Old friends (and spouses) who had trained together in the late Sixties, and had set out on the path of teaching, together. Along the way, some got promoted and some took time out to have children before returning.

Thirty years on, how many are still in the profession? Only one. The rest have retired, early, for a number of reasons: health, they've had enough, or just decided they had nothing left to give and wanted a change. All were successful as teachers and all but one have gone.

I asked them all: "In view of the current teacher shortage, would you consider coming back into the profession you did so well at? Would you come back for the pound;4,000 returners' payment?" The answer? "Not a chance, I don't care how much it is. I wouldn't come back for any money!" Now ask yourself, Are teachers such as these likely to be tempted by Ms Morris reiterating that the Government's position rules out a 35-hour week (TES, July 6), coupled with the National Association of Head Teachers' proposals - no limit on teachers' working week but "management time for school leaders" - and the Secondary Heads' Association's proposal of no limit on working week but five extra days' working time for teachers?

This profession needs a new contract. It needs a 35-hour week. It needs new blood and an end to the haemorrhage of teachers out of the profession. Otherwise the story of teaching will end, in the early 21st century, like the Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None!

Please Ms Morris. Don't fiddle around the edges. You can't shore up the profession with more "administrators". Where the heck are they going to get office space in the average school? Ours has commandeered all the stockrooms for senor management. (The "stock" is piled in the classrooms!) You can't fob us off with more "non-contact time". We simply don't believe that it will change anything. We'll lose it covering for the teachers who are off with stress or on courses to train for yet another "initiative". To pinch a headline from The TES: "Forget the money, I want an easier life."

Brian Waggett 20 Melrose Avenue Southport

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