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Career advice

Q) I did a Certificate of Education in FE, then taught in London for three years in the mid-1980s. I thought I still had a lot to offer in teaching, but I went back to managing an engineering department with a Japanese firm to refresh my industry experience. Now that vocational courses will be given more importance in the school curriculum, I'd like to return to secondary school teaching. What steps should I take to transfer?

A) With your experience in FE, you need to find a school that would employ you through the graduate or registered teacher programmes. This enables you to retrain in schools and be paid at the same time. If you have qualified as a schoolteacher already, you need no formal re-training, but you could do one of the returners' courses on offer in the UK. .

Q) I am a curriculum manager for a modern languages faculty. I have been in the job for 18 months and receive four management points. I have crossed the threshold and am almost 48 years old. I have a first degree and an MA in education. I am more ambitious in middle age than Iused to be. Is it too early in my present post to apply for an assistant headship? I am worried about not being marketable once I hit 50 so I want to go for it as soon as possible. It's early days in my post and I don't want to let anyone down. Any advice?

A) I sympathise, but in the end it's your career and you have to decide what is most important to you. At your age, I would look for the assistant headship, even if it means changing schools. At 50, even though you may have 25 per cent of your working life ahead of you, there is still prejudice about promoting older staff. The idea of letting people down is the classic guilt trip for teachers. When you retire, you'll be leaving some classes at different points in their education - it's just a fact of life.

Q) You recently had a question about teaching in Scotland. What about teaching in Wales? I was trained and have always taught in England, so are my qualifications valid in Wales?

A) The short answer is yes. The National Assembly controls education, including teacher training, in Wales, but teaching qualifications obtained in England or Wales are valid in either country. Your problem may be that there is no shortage of teachers in most parts of Wales.

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