Shift focus on to older recruits

17th November 2000 at 00:00
I HAVE worked in various career services for 16 years and observed the declining interest in teaching as a career.

When I first started you could guarantee that 10 per cent of fifth-formers would show an interest in teaching. Nowadays when this is mentioned in careers interviews most young people laugh! The fact is that they want adequate remuneration from their career, coupled with job satisfaction and recognition.

The comment by Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, is right:

"When I left school my teachers encouraged me to go into teaching; today the opposite is the case." (TES, November 3)

Young people see their hard-pressed teachers and really do not want to follow in their fotsteps.

The Government strategy of just another expensive advertising campaign is therefore unlikely to attract young aspiring graduates - they switched off the idea of teaching at 15 or 16 or earlier!

Funding older entrants will help, however. Careers offices regularly have enquiries from adults looking for a career change and willing to consider teaching.

Most lose interest when they see the expected starting salary and realise they are likely to have to return to a student grant. The employment-based routes will be an attraction, especially if they offer a salary for "on-the-job" training.

Inglis Wightman

Manager, Guildford Careers Centre

Park Street

Guildford, Surrey

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