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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
Teacher's advice for the old school
Inge Tait
Inge Tait is pleased she switched careers
Working as a science technician for many years, Inge Tait had a good idea of what life as a teacher would be like.

She knew she could do the job, but at 50, thought she was too old to take the plunge.

"I was frightened of doing it and thought I was too old but I wanted to use my study," she said.

Friends encouraged her to make the change, especially one who is a headteacher.

"He pointed out that unless I was planning to retire early, I had ten years of teaching ahead of me," she said.


"I was frightened of doing it and thought I was too old but I wanted to use my study

Inge Tait
Now, after completing a post-graduate (PGCE) course and landing a job as a science teacher and sixth form tutor in the South East, she hopes other older would-be teachers will follow suit.

"I would encourage any other people to not be scared of having a go," she said.

In its recruitment campaigns, the government has highlighted the extra experiences and qualities more mature entrants to teaching can bring.

Discipline challenge

Inge Tait believes one of the biggest challenges facing teachers is discipline and pupils' bad behaviour.

She says such problems led to many of the trainee teachers who were studying with her dropping out.

Of the 23 people who started at De Montford University in Bedford with her, only 15 lasted the course.

She says she has also struggled with the problem, even though her teaching practice was at a good school which has won awards.

"I have been up until midnight preparing lessons and have come in the next day and a kid with attitude has spoiled the whole lesson.

"Kids always say 'trainee teachers - you're fair game'. You slip up once and you're lost.

"If I had problems in this school, which has won awards, and is well-respected, what is it like in other schools?"

Finances

Switching careers to teach can also bring a financial challenge.

Inge Tait swapped her technician's salary for a 6,000 bursary and a loan.

With a mortgage, this was no easy decision.

"It was a big step, but it was only for a year and I will now earn about 18,000.

"Also, I don't think that money is the most important thing," she said.

See also:

12 Apr 01 | Education
Student teachers grade Blair
28 Apr 01 | Education
Students vague about teachers' pay
07 Mar 01 | Education
Teacher training applications rise
19 Dec 00 | Education
What deters would-be teachers
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