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Careers advice from Theodora Griff

Are academies for me?

I'm hoping to move to work nearer my partner who lives quite a way away. The only thing is that most of the schools there seem to be academies now. What do you think about working in an academy?

The first thing is that over the past few years, academies have changed. Originally they were failing schools that were taken up by sponsors who put money into them, as did the government, to try to turn them round. So teachers were sometimes a little wary because of the poor reputation for discipline and results that these schools had previously had. Now the rules have changed, and outstanding schools are being given priority in changing to academy status.

From your point of view, deciding not to apply to a school that has become an academy could be limiting your choice quite severely, as there are so many of them now. And even if a school isn't an academy yet, that could well change. So my advice is to treat an academy just like any other school that you might consider applying to, and research it thoroughly to see if it is suitable for you.

One area to investigate is the conditions of pay and employment. Academies could, in theory, pay you almost nothing and get you to work all the hours of the day. One of the teaching unions' major objections to academies is that they do not guarantee to maintain the favourable pay and conditions that have been won for teachers over the years. So do check this out.

I have visited quite a few academies, and in every case I have been very impressed by the pupils and by the staff.

I am also impressed by the very professional approach of some of the chains that run these academies, with impeccable human resources management and outstanding opportunities for continuing professional development for the teachers.

So don't knock the academies without finding out more about them.

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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