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Career advice

Q I remember reading somewhere that the Government was going to require all new headteachers to have passed the NPQH. I am an acting head in a small primary school and have not yet taken the qualification. Will I be prohibited from applying for the headship when it is advertised?

A You are quite right about the prerequisite. The Government had set a date of 2002 for making the qualification mandatory for all new heads. Presumably that includes acting heads seeking to be appointed to a permanent position. However, it is not clear whether the date is achievable, especially in the primary sector where there were more than 500 temporarily-filled vacant headteacher posts. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile you taking the qualification if you see your future in headship.

Q In his speech to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Torquay, the Prime Minister seemed to be saying that the Government was writing off student loans over 10 years for secondary recruits in many subjects. I am a maths graduate. Does this apply to me if I train as a teacher?

A Sadly, this does not yet appear to be the case. The idea of paying off the loans of some students who enter teaching was floated in the Government's Green Paper Schools: Building on Success. But there is no evidence on either the Teacher Training Agency's or the Department for Education and mployment's websites that it has yet been accepted as government policy. I am sure that if it is, maths will be included.

There is still time to introduce the policy for September, or even to include students in training if it is introduced after September. So, don't delay your application to teach just because the position on loan repayments is still uncertain.

Q I work as a supervisor in a mobile phone factory and am about to be made redundant. I am 51, ex-armed forces and have a degree (1997) in business and IT. Should I consider teaching? How do I start?

A You have many marketable skills but you don't say what age group you want to teach. With your degree and experience of working with adults, the further education sector looks the best bet. Contact your local colleges to see whether they might be interested in your qualifications. Their staff development units will be able to tell you about part-time training opportunities.

If you are interested in teaching in secondary schools, you might consider the employment-based training route. Try contacting any school advertising a post in your subject areas to see whether they would consider training you. Since there is no guarantee of a job at the end of a post-graducate certificate of education course, you might think that traditional training route involves too much of a risk.

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