Why don't we get incentive payments?

14th September 2001 at 01:00
I belong to a small group of people (seven of us in our thirties) who decided that after various other careers, we would train to become teachers.

As none of us had a degree, we took a two-year course that gave us a degree in secondary mathematics education with qualified teacher status.

Despite a very heavy workload, we all graduated this summer. But because we were undergraduates, we did not qualify for any of the payments our postgraduate colleagues are enjoying to help pay off their loans.

The subject shortage scheme, the pound;7,500 the Government always quotes as one of its many incentives for all teachers in certain difficult-to-recruit subject areas, is mean-tested, so some students receive less than the full amount or nothing at all.

It makes us laugh when we hear ministers say that all new teachers benefit from a raft of payments - pound;6,000 while studying and pound;4,000 golden hellos.

When we asked the Teacher Training Agency why we were not eligible for some of the money, we were told that, "as we had volunteered to become teachers, we did not need any further encouragement".

We may not need further encouragement, but when we see and hear fellow NQTs enjoying additional money, we wonder how long our enthusiasm can be maintained.

A J Thornton, Halton, Lancashire

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