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EDITIONS
Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 17:10 GMT
Head's horror at 'slur' on teachers
Sue Hyland
Sue Hyland: We're knocked always in the media
An award-winning head teacher has said reports that many new staff were regarded as being of low calibre had an "awful" demoralising effect.

A poll of 827 state secondary schools in England and Wales, published just before the start of the new academic year, found that heads thought staff shortages left them no choice but to hire those they regarded as unsuitable.

Sue Hyland, head of Houghton Kepier school in Tyne and Wear - and winner of a leadership prize in this year's Teaching Awards - said the headlines this had generated had been highly damaging.

"We're knocked so much. We're knocked always in the media," she said in a BBC News Online forum.

'Appalling'

Talking about the difficulties of recruiting and retaining teachers, highlighted in research published on Thursday, she said the status of the profession had to be raised - as the Teaching Awards sought to do.

"I was horrified, the weekend that we started in September.

"The headlines everywhere were that heads had been scraping the barrel to get new teachers in and that anyone who was coming in was basically an also-ran that was just being taken on because they happened to be a body.

"That was appalling. I was taking on 10 teachers, eight of whom were newly-qualified, all of whom had had stiff competition to be recruited to our school.

"I just felt so sad that they were coming into a profession and they were knocked before they even came in. It's awful."

Sue Hyland
"I love working with the children"
Mrs Hyland acknowledged that teaching was a tough and demanding job, and said anyone who thought of it as nine to three-thirty was living "in cloud cuckoo land".

New teachers needed good management support, she said. Pay was also a factor. Workload needed to be reduced.

But it was also immensely rewarding.

"I love the variety of the job. It's just so exciting. Every day is different - I never know what I'm going to come in to meet in the morning.

"I just like being able to make a difference and as long as I can go on and do that, then you wouldn't keep me from it.

"And if anyone is thinking about it: Go for it."

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