Career Clinic

This week, Professor John Howson answers questions about returning to teaching and a promotion quandary

Professor John Howson

Wage worries

I left teaching a couple of years ago to bring up my young children and have taken on occasional supply work since then. Would I be able to return to teaching at the place on the points scale that I was at before, or would I have to take a pay cut?

As you probably know, a teacher's salary comprises two main elements. First, there is the portion relating to the position a teacher has reached on the main or upper pay scale; second, any allowances for responsibilities associated with teaching and learning. There are also several other payments that we will come to later. (The issue of academies that can set their own rates of pay and conditions of work is currently of little relevance to most primary school teachers.)

Under arrangements made many years ago, the increment you reach on the main or upper pay scale when you leave the profession is the point at which you return. There are exceptions for those who have been out of teaching for so long that they left when the pay scale was of a different length, but that problem will not affect you.

Different arrangements apply to teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments, as they come with the job and are not linked to an individual: give up the job and lose the TLR.

Other payments, such as recruitment and retention allowances or points for teaching children with statements, will also disappear. However, the special educational needs point may be awarded if the new job warrants it.

So your main salary will not be cut, but your overall take-home pay may be. In the present climate, that may be less of a worry than actually finding a job at all. Good luck.

Taking responsibility

I'm thinking of applying for a teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) post at my current school. However, I would rather have a similar post in a different school. I already perform the TLR role in an acting capacity. If I get this post, can I still hand my notice in if something better comes up and I'm successful?

It is your career and nobody else will manage it for you - certainly not your current head, who wants the best for their school.

However, there are personal, professional and moral responsibilities involved here. If you do apply elsewhere within weeks of accepting a similar post at your current school, you can expect your head to write you a less than generous reference (even if it cannot be false).

But there is a way round this. If the other school offers you the job, you can explain the circumstances so that, if you do get a negative reference, they can read between the lines.

Also, although you are doing the job in an acting capacity at present, you have no guarantee of being appointed.

The worst-case scenario would be to accept the job at your school and then apply but not be offered the job in another school, as you would have had to tell your current head that you were applying and needed a reference.

You would then be a lame duck and the head would be expecting you to leave in the near future - unless you could convince them that this other post had some special characteristics than made it an exceptional opportunity. At present, you have neither a bird in the hand nor one in the bush, to quote the old saying, but instead a temporary TLR role and a post you are "thinking" of applying for.

There are those who would say you should remain loyal to your present school, but I reiterate my view that it is your career to manage in your own best interest.

Professor John Howson is our resident career expert, with 40 years in education, including spells as a teacher, academic, school recruitment researcher and government adviser.

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Professor John Howson

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