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Careers advice from Theodora Griff

Who will speak for me?

I've been at this school for five years now and it's time to move on in my career. My problem is that I've only ever worked in one school and my university tutor has retired. So who do I have as my two referees?

Five years is a good time to stay in one school: you see pupil progression. If it's a secondary you may well have several examination cohorts under your belt and you will have developed a great deal in your professional skills.

That development is why you should not give your university tutor as a referee now, even if they had not retired. Their reference would not do justice to your current level of competence. You need another second referee.

Your first referee will be the headteacher. The official wording is your current or most recent employer in a job involving working with children or young people. In theory, that is the director of education and children's services at County Hall. What they really mean is your head. So as soon as you spot a likely job, you should go and see him or her to say that you are looking to move forward in your career and would like to name them as your referee. This is just a matter of courtesy.

As for your second referee, do not worry. A lot of people believe that you cannot have two referees from the same school, but that is not true. Your second referee could be a deputy head, your head of department or your head of year, depending on the post you are applying for.

If the head has only recently joined the school and hardly knows you, you still put him as the referee. Another senior or middle leader will be asked to draft the reference, which will be signed by the head.

Just make sure that you speak to all your referees before sending off your application; nothing is worse than them finding out about it from a reference request.

Meet Theodora Griff online on the TES Jobseekers forum or in person at a TES Careers Advice Service seminar or individual consultation. bit.lyuWhqN2.

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