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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 02:55 GMT 03:55 UK
London 'faces teaching crisis'
teachers on a protest march in March
Teachers walked out over the allowances in March
Schools in London could see teachers leave in droves if cost of living allowances are not increased, union leaders warn.

Two months after staging a one-day strike in protest at London weighting rates, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has published a pamphlet in which teachers talk about the difficulties of making ends meet in the capital.

London allowances for teachers
Inner: 3,105
Outer: 2,043
Fringe: 792
The union wants to see London allowances put up by at least a third, which would take the inner London allowance to about 4,000.

Many of the teachers featured in the NUT pamphlet say they are considering moving out of the capital so that they can improve their quality of life.

Becky Large - a primary school teacher on 28,875 a year - said: "Even if I could get a mortgage I don't think I would be able to afford it taking into account all the other costs that come with being a single homeowner."

"It truly feels hopeless."

Off to Japan

Lewisham secondary teacher Kirsty McNeice said: "I have applied and been accepted to be a classroom assistant in Japan where I will be paid more and taxed less."

Eamonn O'Kane
Eamonn O'Kane: Worried about the effect on pupils
"This way I can earn money and pay off some debts, although I will not be able to plan for my future or consider buying a property for at least another six years."

Members of the NUT will join with colleagues from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) for a rally at Central Hall, Westminster.

The event - being dubbed a celebration of London teachers - has been organised to highlight the teaching crisis facing London.

General Secretary of the NASUWT Eamonn O'Kane said: "The result of this exodus from London will leave pupils without experienced teachers."

Unqualified teachers

"Already one London borough has 175 unqualified teachers taking classes.

"How can the needs of the capital's diverse range of students, with some 300 languages spoken among primary school pupils, be met when teachers cannot afford to live and work here?"

John Puckrin, the ATL's branch secretary for Lewisham, said: "We will never solve the problems of teacher shortages in London if the Government does not address the issue of student debt."

"Newly qualified teachers are put off working in London because with huge debts to pay off they don't stand a chance of getting on the property ladder."

Starter home initiative

But the unions' concerns have so far left education ministers unmoved - the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, has said she would not be swayed by threats of strikes.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the government was taking teachers' pay seriously.

"London allowances increased by almost 30% last year - so a teacher who started work in London in 1997 has seen his or her pay go up 63% since 1997," the spokeswoman said.

Head teachers could award discretionary recruitment and retention allowances of up to 5,262, she added, and the starter home initiative was helping some teachers access the housing market.

The London strike

The wider picture

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Education
05 Mar 02 | Education
30 Jan 02 | Education
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