Sixty and in my primary

15th February 2008 at 00:00
My youngest grandson calls me Grandma Bonkers. With good reason. At the advanced age of 60, I have just landed my first job as a newly qualified teacher. I owe this new venture entirely to the Government for changing the ruling on retirement age in April last year from 60 to 65.

Without that change, it would not have been possible for me to become a teacher. It's about the only thing I can think of to thank this Government for.

Having raised five children of my own and seen them marry and have children, I experienced something of an "empty nest" syndrome. I had left school without any qualifications in the 1960s and back then it was OK to get married and have children in your teens, a thought that would horrify today's generation.

To help my dyslexic daughter obtain her GCSEs, I went to night school with her to take English GCSE.

This spurred me on to further success. I continued with GCSEs and then A-levels. What next? A degree. I was already a grandmother, still working part-time. Was I mad? Well, yes.

I applied to Reading University, which offered me a place to read English literature part-time. It took me six years, but I did it. I just loved learning and being in that environment.

Could I possibly combine my love of education with my love of children?

Again, Reading University offered me a place on its graduate teacher programme. I qualified in July last year, just three months short of getting my pension.

I now teach in a local primary school and I'm in heaven. It is the best job. With the experience of age and family I feel I have a lot to offer: patience, time and understanding.

And with no ties, relationship, children or money worries, I can devote all my energies to my wonderful new profession. So to any OAPs out there, just let me say you are never too old.

Just when my family thought I was going to put my feet up in a pair of tartan slippers with bobbles on, I started a whole new career. Teaching is simply the best, go and find out for yourselves

Diana Blake is a new teacher in Reading.

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