Talking point

12th December 2003 at 00:00
What do teachers think of their jobs, pay and working conditions?

Bindu Verma, English teacher at Hounslow Manor secondary school, London:

"There are too many initiatives. The Government needs to slow down and give teachers a chance to make a judgment themselves. The workload for an English teacher is quite heavy ... the pen-pushing is a drag. Teachers appear to get fair salaries, but not when you take into account house prices and working 50-plus hours a week."

Robin Lacey, head, Orgill school, Egremont, Cumbria:

"I am quite satisfied with what the Government is doing. We are better funded than five to six years ago. There is no shortage of money. My criticism is that there are handcuffs on what we can spend it on. The variety in my job gives me enormous pleasure. I'm a social worker, heating engineer, DIY man, and teacher, better not forget that one. The salary is reasonable, but not compared to similar professionals."

Joan Henderson, headteacher at Newburn Manor first school, Newcastle-upon-Tyne:

"I thoroughly enjoy my job, probably because I still do a lot of teaching.

That's the fun part of the job. It's where the satisfaction comes, seeing children learn. What worries me is that when initiatives come in they are supported by money, but then the money runs out. I am well rewarded for what I do, but it is not a five-day-a-week, nine to five job, it's a life-long commitment. When you measure that against what doctors and lawyers get, it's not perhaps what it should be."

Stuart Baillie, head of humanities and citizenship at Elthorne Park high, west London:

"I quite like my present job. There's lots of challenge, and never two days the same. The worst and best thing is that you end up multi-tasking. Those teachers who have passed threshold have seen a significant pay rise , but if you haven't been teaching long the pay is meagre. The most disgusting thing is that they are using non-teaching staff, the cleaner can become the teacher - which is no slur on cleaners by the way."

Ben Hickson, NQT, head of music at Lilian Baylis school, Lambeth:

"It is too early to say whether I'm satisfied in my job. I am just starting out. I have still got a lot of incentive, and I am not going to walk away from it, but the stress is incredible. I am sure in the long run it will pay off. But there's no avoiding the stress, at least for a year I think."

Caroline Fowler, Year 1 teacher at Albourne school, West Sussex:

"I love my job, I love working with the children. Every day is different.

To see someone able to read suddenly, or write a word is wonderful. But the money is a pittance. My husband earns four times as much as I do and doesn't have to go into to work at the weekends."

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