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Career advice

Q I was teaching biology in a selective school until two years ago when I moved to a head of science post in a small independent school in another part of the country. Sadly, the move has not been a success as my family can't settle. I'm now looking to move back closer to friends and relations. However, I'm not sure what to do. Should I try to move sideways to another head of science post, or seek a post as head of biology (my main teaching subject) in a larger school, or try to become an assistant headteacher. I am not keen to move any higher up the management ladder?

A I'm sorry that your move didn't work out for family reasons. Most schools will accept this as a valid reason for you wanting to change jobs after such a short period of time. As to what type of post to apply for, it may be time for you to conduct a career audit. What is it that you like most about teaching? Is it the classroom work in your subject, or the planning and administration over a wider canvas than being a head of science allows you? What is it that attracts you to an assistant headship? Remember, it need not mean more money as advanced skills teachers can stay in the classroom and earn more than many assistant heads. Although you don't give your age, you should also consider where you want the remainder of your career to go? It might be sensible to take a teaching post that would allow you to undertake some further professional development-perhaps one that would lead to another qualification.

Q I'm starting a 0.5 post soon and I'm going to be doing supply at the same school to make my timetable up to four days a week. The school has a full staff meeting every Tuesday that I assume I have to attend. But what is the position on other meetings? For instance, they have two parents' evenings a week for each year group so that these are more accessible to parents. Can I refuse to do one of them?

A With regard to your 0.5 contract, the complication would be if it is spread over more than two and a half days. You should talk with the school to see what they expect from you. I'm sure it will include the staff meeting if it falls on one of your working days. As a professional, you'll need to balance the demands upon your time with what you are being paid. You may want to take into account any goodwill on the school's part in meeting your needs before deciding on your approach to evening meetings.

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