Reference to price of courtesy;Letter

23rd May 1997 at 01:00
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

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