Careers clinic

If you’ve got a problem, you know who to call – our experts. John Howson and Sara Bubb offer advice every week
24th October 2008, 1:00am


Careers clinic

Q: I’m a primary teacher and special needs co-ordinator and, although I enjoy the management side of being a senco, I have no desire to become a head or deputy. Instead, I want to step outside of a primary school environment and use my skills in other areas, but I don’t want to relocate or take a drop in salary. I’m also worried that as my pay increases and I get older (I’m 41), getting out will become increasingly difficult. Have you any ideas of where I should look next?

A: With up to 25 years of service left, your career is close to the halfway point. If you don’t want to be a head or deputy, a TLR supplement (up to Pounds 11,557) to a UP3 salary (Pounds 35,121 outside London) is the most you are likely to earn by remaining in a primary school, unless you supplement your income by other work outside of school.

Advanced Skills Teacher posts are rare in the primary sector. If you have a higher degree, training teachers allows you to expand your horizons, work with adults and keep in touch with schools. However, you might have to relocate to find a job, as I did twice when I entered teacher training. Alternatively, there might be an advisory post with your local authority, something such as the Traveller Education Service or home-school liaison are possibilities. But they may not offer the long-term security of teaching in a school.

You will have to assess what is important to you at this point and how much risk you are willing to take. If you don’t want a leadership post and are confined to a particular area, then opportunities may be limited and you should apply for anything that looks a possibility. But this may upset your current head and that would have repercussions if you were unsuccessful in finding another post.

Q: I am going for an interview and on the day will be given a topic for a presentation with 30 minutes to prepare. Can you give me any advice?

A: With little to go on in your question, my answer can only be couched in general terms. Teaching ability, subject knowledge, appreciation of the age, stage and type of pupils you would be teaching and ability to think on your feet all seem to be possibilities if the presentation is associated with a teaching job.

As most lessons follow a similar structure, you need a beginning, middle and end and an activity to engage those present. I don’t know how long the presentation is, but if it’s more than 10 minutes, don’t lecture them for the whole time.


John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training. He is now a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

Q: I’m about to qualify as a London primary teacher specialising in French. Am I right in thinking that I could do the NQT year part-time? From what I’ve been told this is unlikely unless you have a ready-made job share or a school with a particular reason for wanting a part-time teacher. Would I need to be working as a class teacher as opposed to say, someone doing cover across a range of classes?

A: You’re right. You can do induction when working part-time so long as you have a term’s contract, but jobs are harder to come by. You just need to start looking early and hard. Some part-time jobs will be job shares so will be based with the same class. That’s the best way to do induction. For instance, you might get a job taking the deputy head’s class for a couple of days a week while they do leadership tasks. But you can do induction covering other people’s classes so long as you have a regular timetable that allows you to plan and assess properly.

Doing PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) cover isn’t a great thing for new teachers to have to do - but many are in this boat and their schools make it work.

You’re in a great position having French as a specialism because you’ll get snapped up teaching languages across the school while regular class teachers have PPA time.

Register with local authority pools as soon as they open. That way you can get the recruitment officer on the lookout for you. Personal contacts are valuable in getting any job, but especially ones that are a bit out of the ordinary.

Q: How many hours should new teachers teach? I seem to be doing the same amount as the other teachers in my secondary school.

A: There’s no ruling about the number of hours new teachers should teach, but in England and Wales, people on induction should teach for 90 per cent of what other teachers in the school do and Scotland’s probationers should only have a 70 per cent timetable.

The reduced timetable should be spread throughout the year, though it’s up to the school how they organise it. As with any complaints, raise it with the person in charge of new teachers at the school verbally at first and then in writing. Then go to your appropriate local body.


Sara Bubb was a primary teacher before becoming a teacher trainer. She is now an education consultant, lectures at the Institute of Education in London and has written extensively on induction and professional development.

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