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Careers advice

Q I have recently graduated as a mature student with an honours degree in socio-legal studies. I now wish to pursue a career in further education. I am taking stage one of the 7307 Teacher's Certificate and have been lucky enough to obtain the required four hours of teaching practice at my old college (assisting with the teaching of European studies).

I will hopefully be able to take stage two, provided I have the required qualifications in subject teaching and a place to carry out the 40 hours of teaching practice. What subjects will I be able to teach and what would be the best career route?

A For many years it was not considered necessary for those lecturing in the further education sector to have anything other than the basic qualifications in instructional skills. Happily, there is now a recognition of the importance of understanding more about the skills involved in managing the learning environment successfully. Is there any chance of your old college offering you the required number of teaching hours to allow you to complete stage two?

The next stage would be to look for a certificate course in FE or adult and post-compulsory education. Some universities and colleges offer these on a part-time basis. After that yu will need to think about future studies to enhance your subject knowledge and to develop your teaching skills. Your career aims will help define what will be appropriate to your own needs.

I assume that you want to teach sociology and possibly basic legal courses as well. You could carry out an audit of courses at local colleges and match your expertise against them. As a mature student you may have some previous work experience that will also be useful if taken into account.

On the downside, if family commitments restrict your mobility, that may limit the number of colleges where you can look for work.

Q I am a 52-year-old physics teacher who has been teaching in the Caribbean for 12 years. For family reasons I must return to the UK. What salary can I expect?

A From April, classroom teachers can earn nearly pound;25,000 before any additional payments either for responsibilities, performance or London allowances. As a physics teacher with your experience, who will probably stay with any school that employs you until retirement, you might want to bargain for some form of recruitment and retention package. If you can't find a post before returning to the UK you should contact the main teacher-supply agencies.

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