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Unions 2000 Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Teacher tells Blunkett: 'I quit'
wilf matos
Wilf Matos: Had enough
By Alison Stenlake at the NASUWT conference in Llandudno

A young teacher says he is quitting the profession to "reclaim my lost evenings and weekend".

Wilfred Matos told the education secretary as he visited a union conference that he loved teaching, but that the pressures of his job had left him with no choice but to leave.

The 30-year-old science teacher from Redbridge Community School in Southampton blamed a long list of "burdens" imposed on teachers for his decision - including school inspections, large class sizes, performance-related pay, inclusion and target-setting.

At the annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), in Llandudno, he appealed to the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, to do something to help teachers like him who were leaving the profession disillusioned after just a few years.

Mr Matos, who handed in his notice last week after five years in the classroom, asked: "Why is it that all of society's ills are on my shoulders?

"I don't need any extra training to become a super-teacher. I feel that I already am a super-teacher.

"But what has the government ever done for me?"

Spare time

"I'm stressed, I'm exhausted, and I've realised that I can't make a difference. I'm jumping out before I drown."

Mr Matos, a graduate, said he worked between about 40 and 50 hours a week, using spare time at evenings and weekends for tasks such as marking pupils' work and planning lessons.

For this, he said, he earned just 18,303 a year before tax.

Although he had a mortgage and had recently become engaged, he had decided to leave without having any idea of what to do next, as he wanted to "see what social life there is out there".

Mr Blunkett - answering questions after addressing the conference - said that, historically, more than 30% of teachers left the profession after three or four years, which wasn't "satisfactory".

He told Mr Matos: "I hope you reconsider your decision. We need people who love teaching."


He suggested that people who felt the same way as Mr Matos could take a break doing something associated with teaching, then consider coming back into the profession.

The possibility of sabbaticals for teachers, allowing them to "breathe for a term", could help the situation.

While measures had been put in place to help reduce the burdens on teachers, he said other things needed to be done, including putting more teaching assistants into classrooms to share teachers' loads, and establishing a system which was able to care for a good teacher and give good back-up.

NASUWT general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, said it was a "hell of a shame" that young teachers like Mr Matos were leaving the profession.

He said the union was offering the chance to improve teachers' lots, with help and advice on how to pass through the performance-related pay threshold, gaining immediate access to an extra 2,000 and a higher pay scale.

It was also taking steps to cut teachers' workloads, following delegates' sanctioning of a ballot on action to cut bureaucracy.

See also:

26 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
25 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
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