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Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

My school doesn't allow me to go on any courses. What course allocation and funds am I entitled to in my induction year?

Your local authority pays your school at least pound;1,000 a term to cover induction costs. Much of this is eaten up in funding your 10 per cent lighter timetable, but what's left can be used to pay for courses in your release time. Even if there is no induction money left, you are entitled to a share of the school in-service training budget. Wise heads realise that you need courses and that investing the savings made on your salary (you're cheap) in your professional development will help raise standards. Some people don't benefit from training - because of poor-quality presentation or because they see these opportunities as days off.

The advantages in going on courses should be obvious but here are some to ponder. You'll learn from hearing about the latest practice of other schools and teachers, especially other NQTs. Courses will meet your needs well and ease the burden on the school to train you. You'll have time to reflect and discuss issues with others. Most importantly, you can tell the rest of the staff about the latest developments you've heard about on the course so that everybody benefits.

Choose your courses carefully. Make sure they cover what you need to improve - ideally in relation to your objectives so that you can meet the induction standards. And don't just look at ones run nearby: open your net wider to find just the right one. Discuss this with your induction tutor, and give clear reasons why you think this is the best way to get professional development in whatever area the course covers.

Courses are only one of a range of things you can do. Observing other teachers in your own and other schools is also very beneficial - and comparatively cheap.

Once you get on a course, make the most of it. Think about how you can use ideas in your classroom - and make sure you do so.

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