Career Clinic

This week, Professor John Howson answers questions about missing out on permanent roles and inexperience

Professor John Howson

Finding a home

I graduated in 2010 and still haven't found a permanent position in PE. This is very disheartening and although I have had interviews, I am simply not getting jobs. Feedback from an interview last week said that my teaching was strong, my interview was strong and I had a strong application. However, I didn't get the job because another applicant better suited the position. I have been on supply for two years now and although I have had some good PE work and experience, I want a permanent post.

PE is one of the secondary subjects where over-supply in the job market is still significant, despite the reduction in training places, so you are not alone. It is good that you are being called for interview - some do not even make it that far. All you can do is apply as widely as possible while continuing on supply until someone recognises your strengths and appoints you.

Add to your CV with any relevant continuing professional development, including additional coaching skills. Also, if you can find out from a debrief what the candidate appointed has that you do not, that may offer pointers for how to move forward.

It may be that schools are appointing trainees who qualify this year over those teachers who are working on supply because they still do not appreciate how challenging the job market is in certain parts of the country and in some subjects and phases, and that the lack of a permanent post is not a reflection on the quality of supply teachers. But why would a school bother to interview someone they would not appoint? So do keep trying and check if there is anything you need to improve on your CV. And be aware that, in this subject, schools often look for particular combinations of expertise.

Do I fit the job description?

A teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) position has just come up in the ICTmaths faculty at my school. I teach maths, but have a background in IT. In the job description it says they are looking for someone to continue to raise standards within the ICT curriculum area. However, as an NQT who has not yet taught ICT, I fear I may not be experienced enough.

You are absolutely correct in your thinking. In a normal situation, one year's experience would probably not be enough. However, if the job is only advertised internally, you should be able to identify who may apply for it. How many other candidates might be able to do the job better than you? Why has the post suddenly appeared so late in the school year?

If it is advertised externally, serving teachers cannot change schools until January, so unless the school is prepared to wait, it may not receive many applications other than from internal candidates and those currently without a job.

As an NQT you do lack experience, and there is the added disadvantage that you have not taught ICT yet. You say you have a background in IT, but not what subject your PGCE or other teaching preparation course was in. If it was in ICT, that may make a difference.

You have little to lose by applying, if you think you can do the job. But if you do not think you can lead the team in a way that will raise standards, do not apply as it may only make you unhappy.

If the head of department in ICT is not performing the task of raising standards, I would not risk taking a job that did it for them - unless there was a very good reason why they were not doing this as part of their core responsibilities and the school had agreed to delegate it to someone else.

The size of the school may also be a factor: the larger the department, the more you should think seriously about what is involved before applying for the TLR.

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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