Shackled by lead handcuffs

16th February 2001 at 00:00
I am in my second year of teaching and have just, and not for the first time, been kicked in the teeth by the Government. My crime? Just like D Jarrett (TES, February 9) and M Anderson (TES, January 26) I am "an inbetweeny".

I studied for five years as a "mature" student with two children to support, to obtain a first class honours degree in science. I then undertook a further year's study for my post-graduate certificate in education. It was not easy financially but I thought I was just the type of teacher the Government was desperately trying to bring into, and keep, in the profession. Obviously not!

As a teacher who qualified in 1999 I missed out on the "golden hello" and also on training bursaries (abolished prior to our training). Just to add insult to injury we were also the first to pay pound;1,000 towards our tuition fees, leaving us nooption but to take out student loans.

However, on Sunday morning I thought justice was finally to be visited upon "the inbetweenies" when Mr Blunkett announced plans to "pay off" student loans over the next 10 years with his "golden handcuff" plan. Wonderful! This meant that I would see my pay rise which I had calculated would cover almost half of my monthly student loan repayments. At last, a slight glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Then it came. The kick in the teeth. No golden handcuffs for the inbetweenies - only for those recruited in the next three years.

So here I am, the "perfect" recruit to the profession, feeling totally demoralised after less than two years. However, I can't leave. I am wearing the lead handcuffs of pound;8,000 of student loans to pay off!

Wendy Reed

13 East Riggs Bedlington, Northumberland

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