Teaching still doesn't add up;Meeting the challenge of change

11th December 1998 at 00:00

Robert Mendick opens a two-page report on reaction to the Government's plans to 'modernise' the profession released last week in the Green Paper

Bristol is just the kind of university the Government will want to supply its high-flying teachers .

No such luck if a TES straw poll of its maths students is anything to go by. One student after another turned up their noses at what is seen as an underpaid and over-worked profession.

Finance, banking and accounting were all preferred, mainly because of higher pay. One lone voice came out in favour of teaching - and only after the TES photographer had pleaded for somebody in the crowded study room to come forward who actually wanted a career in the classroom.

Last week's Green Paper appeared to have made little impact. No student interviewed even veered towards teaching as a result of its publication although many applauded its sentiments.

Only Lorraine Marshall, a second-year maths student, was determined to be a teacher. The Green Paper, she said, could be an incentive although her mind was already made up.

"Teaching has to be something you want to do otherwise you are not going to be any good at it. But a lot of people don't teach because of the money so from that point of view that is a lot better. It will give them an incentive." she said.

Lorraine's inspiration for entering the profession was her maths teacher, with whom she was still in touch. Her father is an accountant - which put her off that.

Stewart Rolls, on the other hand, was deterred from maths teaching because that's what his mother does. Stewart, 20, a third-year maths student, said:

"I am aware of how much work she has to do. It's more than a nine to five job."

Stewart plans to go into retail banking with a starting salary of pound;16,000-a-year in Edinburgh.

Third-year student Sian Evans, 21, has already lined up her first job with a starting salary of pound;17,500 as an actuarial trainee with an assurance company. She expects to earn pound;40,000 within the next four years. She has never considered being a teacher and the new incentives have not changed her mind.

Second-yearJmathsJstudent Davoud Amel-Azizpour, 19, whose mother is a humanities teacher in Bristol, said: "Teaching is not worth the hassle. It is a lot of work and you can get more money doing something else. The stock market would be ideal for me."

Adil Abid, 18, another first year, is heading for accountancy or banking, and a starting salary of between pound;20,000 and pound;35,000. "Teaching involves a lot of stress. I can't imagine going out every day and just teaching the same thing over and over again for the rest of my life," he said.

Christopher Wheeler, 18, a first- year maths student, had not considered his career yet. "Teaching has crossed my mind, but I am waiting," he said.

"I think he would be a good teacher. He helps me with my work," piped up Christopher's friend Sara Martin, 18.

Christopher was not so sure. The Green Paper was encouraging. "Obviously money is a big factor. There are other things than money but you need to have enough to live on. You don't want to go into the system stuck doing the same thing with no room for advancing," he said.

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