Training hurdle must be tackled

16th May 1997 at 01:00
It is not just the lack of morale and the low-esteem that is keeping potential teachers away from the profession; it is also the simple fact that they cannot afford to do the training. My daughter has an Honours degree in politics and history from Manchester University and now, at 24, is considering doing a postgraduate certificate in education.

She has been living and working independently for three years, and doing a variety of paid and voluntary jobs, including teaching, banking and legal work. She has also spent six months travelling in India.

Her decision to join the teaching profession has not been made lightly. Both her parents are teachers and she has been working with pupils with special educational needs in an inner-city area for 18 months.

At one time there were mature students' grants, but they are a thing of the past. The most she is likely to be offered is Pounds 2,000, and that is providing she remains living away from home. This sum will just about cover her travelling expenses to college and her teaching placement and any necessary books and studying materials. She is expected to cover any other expenses incurred with yet another student loan (she already has outstanding loan repayments of Pounds 2,000).

If she goes ahead with her plans to do a PGCE, she is likely to start teaching on the far-from-generous first-appointment pay scale and would face paying back a debt of more than Pounds 6,000. Not a tempting prospect for anyone.

If the Government really wants to recruit teachers, it is going to have to offer them some sort of incentive to encourage them - possibly a delay in having to pay back the loan and a cancellation of the debt if they stay in the profession for three years.

Much as I enjoy her company, I don't want my daughter to have to live at home again, and nor does she. If this new Government is serious in its intentions, it will have to do something positive to help prospective teachers complete their training - and soon.

DEBORAH HARDY, 72 Muncaster Road, Battersea, London SW11

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