Dear John: Do I move sideways or upwards?


I need some advice as I am being pulled in different directions.

I’m in my third year of teaching and go through ups and downs. I work in a ‘tough’ secondary school with some difficult children where the pass rate for exams is just 30%. However, I feel I have built up sufficient experience to step up into a second in charge role.

I have been looking to move as I feel that I need a change. Although I have two interviews lined up for a sideways move into a similar job, the senior management team at my current school has said that this is a bad career move and suggested that I should be trying to move upwards instead of sideways because they feel that I am very good at my job.

Resignation deadlines are looming and I am unsure what to do. Do I make a sideways move now or look for promotion from September?


Your question takes me back to 1974 when I was teaching geography in Tottenham and considering exactly the same issue as you. I had an interview in a great school, wonderful department and no discipline problems, but I felt no challenge. The head of department post became available at the school where I was teaching and I was appointed. The rest, as they say is history.

I would encourage you to heed the advice of those who know you, and aspire higher and take on fresh challenges. If you can succeed in a tough school, we need you to be one of the next generation of leaders for such schools. Teaching in these schools is never easy and I can understand the alternating periods of elation and depression. But, if you are succeeding, please think carefully about what a better school would offer, except for an easier life.

John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training and consultancy, including a brief period as achief government advisor. John is now a recruitment analyst, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University and hosts our Career Clinic where youcan post questions to him.

Need more advice? Visit the Ultimate guide to jobseeking