The 'threat' of mature entrants;Letter

27th March 1998 at 00:00
The article "Shortage, what shortage?" (TES, March 13) certainly struck a chord with me and, I assume, many others similarly led down the garden path by the Government and the teacher-training institutions.

I felt that the article, however, did not fully describe either the size of the "rock" nor the rigidity of the "hard place". I have also become convinced that, while financial motives may be central in the rejection of mature applicants, other more sinister considerations are at work.

I left teacher training three years ago and became instantly unemployable for a full-time post. I have every respect for young, newly-qualified teachers, but those with years of life experience must be worth more, if only because they need less "looking after". I made a point of offering myself at the same rate as younger NQTs - to no avail.

Although not seen as suitable for permanent staff, we mature entrants seem very popular for supply work, probably for the reason previously stated. Furthermore, there is always work in FE that is if you don't mind being a second-class citizen and accepting the instability of a "fractional contract". What started out as a stop-gap way of making a living is fast becoming a career, albeit a very precarious one. I start each new academic year turning down work, because I can't be in two places at once, and finish it earning less than enough to live on.

My initial "cut-price offer"to prospective employers has now been withdrawn, I have gained experience and developed a professional pride. Having been through this price war, I'm convinced that forces other than financial ones are at work to keep out the mature entrant.

One further factor is the insecurity of some in school management that people from industry, especially those with management experience, would be able to see their shortcomings.

STEPHEN JACKSON

5 The Villas Great Hatfield East Yorkshire

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