The hidden cost of being a mature trainee teacher

If an organisation offered to give you £26K tax-free, with no strings attached, but you then discovered in the small print that the amount in question was considerably lower, you might assume that you were dealing with a sharky accidental claims outfit. A trainee teacher writes in Tes.

You might be surprised to be told that the offer is, in fact, a cornerstone of a marketing recruitment campaign for a reputable government department: it is the Department for Education’s headline bursary figure that attempts to entice people into teaching. It is only applicable to certain subjects and scales back rapidly to £15K for applicants wanting to teach English, for example.

Recently I have been gifting around 22 working hours each week to various schools in London by working three days a week over the spring and summer terms. I have been given problem readers to help with guided reading. I have been used as a supplementary teaching assistant to take charge of individual tables around the classroom to keep them on task. I was even left alone in charge of a class temporarily while a supply teacher tried to find out where classroom materials were kept (I’m told this should never have happened). All of it has helped me enormously but, literally, at a price.

For many younger wannabe teachers, the well-known financial provider that goes by the name of “Mum and Dad” will no doubt step in, as parents will fund a house and much else. But a career-changer needs to factor in a period of not working and of investing (we’ll call it that) to get to the change. In other words, they will have to do it from savings, a redundancy, support from a partner or some other means.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said at the NAHT conference in May that he would be taking an “unflinching” look at barriers to entry as well as retention. He then devoted the rest of the speech to the retention elements. Understandably so, since the body he was addressing represents qualified staff, as do the other unions and bodies. I can’t find any announcements on teacher training this year from schools minister Nick Gibb, whose remit this is, apart from a grant of £350K to Now Teach in January.

What is needed is a radical rethink of how the whole process of attracting teachers works if an already appreciable recruitment crisis is not to get a whole lot worse.

Read more The hidden cost of being a mature trainee teacher

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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