Too old and tired to teach well

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Your article on pensions places a difficult decision on teachers (TES, January 30). I have taught for a few weeks short of 40 years and retire on April 30. I am also about to relinquish my role as the local secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers having witnessed over three decades the problems of members who teach over the age of 60.

These problems are irrespective of ill-health, or the cynical view of being an attempt to "kill off" those who work longer and, hence, saving on pension pay-outs. As I reached 60 I began to feel desperately tired. This process began to set in when I was around 58 years of age. It is your body telling you that enough is enough. Unfortunately, as I oft told my education authority, tiredness is not an illness, but can be as debilitating as one.

If schools want a lot of "tired" teachers, serving time to gain or boost a pension, then I can see standards falling and children being taught by the de-motivated and tired. No one is immune from the head to the lowest-paid class teacher. The profession is rife with instances where teachers soldier on to the bitter end and within months of retiring (or days) they die. It is as though those last five years have a cumulative effect.

However, as I found, by working just two years more than what the Teachers Pension Agency had down for my service, as they had my record only up to 2002, it was worth almost another pound;2,300 to my pension and pound;7,000 to my lump sum. Indeed a "rock and a hard place" for teachers making the decision when to retire.

Bill Bradley 2 Flitton Road Billinge, Lancashire

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