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Careers advice

Q I am a mature student who is due to finish an honours degree in English this summer. I have been turned down by two universities following applications to take a PGCE in primary education (only one granted me an interview). I am restricted by location to these two institutions, so am left wondering what to do? Can you give me advice regarding on-the-job training availability or suggestions of what to do next?

A Although there are a lot of stories in the press about teacher shortages, these recruitment problems are largely restricted to secondary schools. The DFEE has decided that fewer primary teachers need to be trained over the next few years. As there are already over 13,000 applicants for around 6,500 PGCE places, about half of all applicants will be disappointed. Course leaders are also encouraged to take students with a range of different degrees, to ensure that there are sufficient specialists in primary schools.

But all this is of no help to you. You could get in touch with the two universities in the summer holidays to see whether any places have unexpectedly become vacant. You should also see whether you can improve your CV, perhaps by doing voluntary work in schools after you have finished your final exams. Sadly, there are likely to be few opportunities for on-thejob training in the primary sector, but do check with the Teacher Training Agency whether there are any school-centred training courses in your area.

Q I retired from a creative career in graphics and advertising, interspersed over recent years with time spent as a practising and exhibiting artist, to pursue a new role in teaching. I have taught on a regular part-time basis in further education and will soon complete stage 2 of the FE teachers' certificate. I am 53 years old and am thinking of relocating to the West Country. Can I possibly teach in secondary schools as well as in further education?

A FE training doesn't generally provide certification to teach in secondary schools. However, some schools might be interested in employing you as an 'artist in residence' for a term, particularly as you have both commercial and exhibition experience. There is also the possibility of working in adult and community settings.

Nonetheless, with your background, I wonder whether you would be happy teaching in one school on a regular basis? Also, if you relocate to the West Country, where there are fewer teaching vacancies, your chances of gaining art-teaching work will be limited, in comparison to the work you might gain in urban areas such as London or the West Midlands.

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