I was headmaster of an independent school from 1973 to 1992. In that time I was often asked for references by fellow heads and also requested them myself.
In my first 10 years, I always received stamped addressed envelopes with such requests, whether from independent or state schools. In the second half of my headship I noticed a marked decline in the number of state schools that bothered with this courtesy.
In the four and half years since I gave up my headship, I have continued to be used as a referee by teachers I employed.
While independent schools always enclose a stamped addressed envelope, many state schools do not.
When I have protested to schools about this I have been told that it is "a cost-cutting exercise". My response - that it comes across as a courtesy-cutting exercise - has been met with incomprehension.
When I have said that it places me as a referee in a difficult position, since were I to decline to meet the request, I should seriously jeopardise a candidate's chances of interview, I have been variously told, "Well, that's up to you", "It's only 26p" and "We don't really consider applications from the independent sector anyway."
I am also appalled by the growing practice in state and independent schools of ignoring job applications. Teachers devote time and care to sending in letters of application and well-presented CVs and receive no acknowledgement.
The low morale of the profession cannot be helped by such gross discourtesy.
ALAN PATTINSON Flat 5 10 Bruce Mansions Southsea Portsmouth