Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Wish I Could Afford to Stay'; London Voice

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Wish I Could Afford to Stay'; London Voice

Article excerpt


'I wish I could afford to stay' Now have Teachers, nurses, policemen and other key workers are being priced out of the capital by the high cost of living. In this week's London Voice, Education Correspondent Tim Miles talks to one teacher who can no longer afford to stay WHEN Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School in Brixton was declared one of the winners in this year's Evening Standard London School Awards, cited for sheer academic excellence, it was not the first time it had been singled out for praise.

Ofsted inspectors described it as "outstandingly effective" and the Government thought it so good they named it a Beacon School, giving extra money to help it share the secrets of success.

One of its teachers, Barbara Philpott, 26, is considered so skilled she gives demonstration lessons, as part of that programme, for staff from other schools. After this summer, she won't be doing that any more. She's leaving.

Ms Philpott is departing from what many teachers would consider an ideal job for the same reason given by many young teachers who dedicate the first years of their career to London's children: money - the sheer cost of living in the capital.

"This school is everything that Ofsted said it was," she said.

"Working here has been nothing but beneficial for my career. I've had every experience and every support and every opportunity I could have wished for.

"I don't want to leave, because I couldn't get a better job than this.

The decision has been purely about my quality of life."

Her decision came as a shock to headteacher John Wentworth.

"Barbara is an excellent teacher and she will be a great loss to the school," he said. "She is just the sort of teacher we need to help us achieve higher standards in inner-city schools. We can't afford to lose her. I understand her reasons for wanting to leave but I am very disappointed to be losing such a good teacher."

The reasons are self evident when Ms Philpott looks at friends working in the City and elsewhere.

Three years into their jobs, they have bought their first homes, take holidays and own relatively new cars. They can see their careers leading towards a prosperous or at least comfortable future.

Three years into her career, one she loves and will not change, Ms Philpott is living like the student she was seven years ago when she first came to London from her home in Cambridgeshire.

Living on a salary of [pound]22,000 - take-home around [pound]1,200 a month - and paying off [pound]10,000 in student debt, she has little choice.

Home is a two-bed flat in Crystal Palace, shared with a friend to help cover rent of [pound]600; transport an 11-year-old car; holidays and luxuries non-existent; and clothes whatever she can afford.

"At the end of each month, I am in the red. …

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