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EDITIONS
Friday, 2 February, 2001, 14:33 GMT
A taste of freedom
Andrew Riddles
Andrew Riddles: "I can now relax at the end of the day"
An ex-teacher illustrates the acute problem of trying to retain skilled staff in the profession at a time of high demand elsewhere in the labour market.

Trips to the pub were never on the timetable for Andrew Riddles when he was head of history.

Socialising was very low on his list of priorities because of his workload at secondary schools in London and Manchester.

Now, after six years as a teacher he has swapped the classroom for an internet technology company.

He says his starting salary matched his rate as head of department - even though he had no experience of the work.


After just eight months in my job, I now earn a third more than I did after six years as a teacher

Andrew Riddles
He is now carving a new career as a web developer, writing code for a company based in Hammersmith, west London.

The move has meant more than just a few glasses of beer with his mates on a week night - something Andrew says he could never do as a teacher.

"I am much less stressed now and less physically tired," he said.

"Although I work very hard and have responsibilities to my job, at the end of the day I am able to relax and go out in the evening. I can leave my work at the office."

The financial rewards of the move from teaching mean that Andrew can now imagine buying his own home in the South East.

Workload and money were two of Andrew's problems with teaching, but another major one was attitudes towards children.

Andrew Riddles
Andrew Riddles: Happier in his work
As he prepared to leave teaching last year he wrote a personal article on these pages about what prompted his departure.

He cited "ludicrous and baffling orders" which teachers had to give to children.

Andrew could see no justice in sending children home in disgrace to change their socks from white to black, especially as many of the children he taught had survived war and much hardship.

Now as an outsider to the profession, has his distance from the job brought any new insights about how how it can be improved?

Revolution

"There needs to be something of a revolution in the way teaching is resourced. Teachers are held back in salary compared to other professions and it's indicative of the way people view education," he said.

As Andrew forges ahead in his new career, he seems to have few regrets about leaving the head of department job many teachers aspire to.

"If anything, my promotion hastened my decision to leave. I earned just 2,000 to 3,000 more but got lots more work.

"I was pleased to leave for a job where I was better rewarded and could also have a better quality of life."

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Andrew Riddles
"I'm much less stressed and less tired now"
Click here for more on teachers' pay

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16 Apr 00 | UK Education
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