Careers clinic

If you have a question, turn to John Howson or Sara Bubb, our experts who offer advice every week

John Howson & Sara Bubb

Q: I am a primary assistant head and have recently completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship. I work in the east of England and my speciality is early years (I worked for three years for the local authority as an early years adviser before returning to the classroom). However, I do not feel enthused about becoming a head. Instead I would love to be involved in teacher training. How can I do it?

A: You will need a higher degree before most universities will consider you. However, school-based courses are probably as concerned about an ability to demonstrate high-quality teaching. Posts in teacher training tend to be advertised in the back pages of The TES and can appear at any time when budgets are approved: the higher education budget year is August to July.

It helps if you have worked as a school tutor and mentor to newly qualified teachers as well as knowing about teaching and learning. I am sure that your local authority experience will also be an advantage.

Joining organisations such as BERA (British Education Research Association) and specific early years groups will help you meet others working in the field who can help you network. After 15 years working with trainee teachers, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the work, although like teaching, it is much harder these days than when I started. However, the pay is much closer to that of a teacher than it has been in the past. With the growth in training places for early years teachers this may be a good time to consider such a move.

Q: I am a newly qualified teacher teaching ICT on a part-time 0.5 temp contract until Easter. I love teaching, but can't get much supply to supplement my income and there aren't any ICT jobs in my area. I'm recently divorced and desperate for the money and stability of a permanent, full-time job. I am considering applying for an ICT trainer job at a university. It is better money, full-time and permanent. However, I'm worried that it might be a backwards step after the effort I put into my PGCE and NQT year so far.

A: I wonder what the long-term future for ICT teaching will be in secondary schools as more subjects come to absorb the skills within their own areas. If you cannot find a full-time job in teaching and there is one paying more in a university, then my advice would be to apply for the post and start a new career.

After a while there may be other opportunities open to you to demonstrate you skills and having worked in a university you might find other vacancies beyond ICT in schools will open. Go for it.


John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training. He is now a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

Q: I am starting my first job in January. I was so happy to get a job, but having spent time in the school last week, I'm really concerned. It's so formal, and mainly worksheet-based. It worries me that no one seems to have any belief in pedagogical principles. I want to change a great deal and am wondering how to go about this without treading on anyone's toes. What should I do?

A: Have faith in yourself and hold on to your principles. The school appointed you and so wants what you do, which is to teach well.

The headteacher may well have chosen you to shake up practice. So long as you follow the curriculum, you have the responsibility to ensure the children in your class have wide-ranging and rich experiences, are happy and learn well.

Don't let the fear of treading on toes inhibit you from doing what's right for the children. Explain your rationale to the parents if they get twitchy about the lack of worksheets - but I doubt they will.

The impact that you have with your class might inspire other staff to break free of the worksheet stranglehold and be more creative.

In no time at all you'll have heaps of evidence of the value you add to your class and the school.

Aren't you lucky to have the opportunity to make such a difference?

Q: I'm just finishing my induction year so what happens in January? How much will my pay go up?

A: I'm afraid that your pay won't go up because it's not linked to passing induction so much as length of service. Movement up the main pay scale generally only happens at the start of the school year. It may be that you did move up in September as you go up a point if you've been employed for at least 26 weeks during the year.

You won't have your 10 per cent reduced timetable or regular support, monitoring and assessment from your induction tutor. Instead, you slot into performance management, the statutory procedure for making sure that all teachers after completing induction discuss their teaching, professional development, career plans and how to be more effective.

You can use your transition point 3 discussion that's in your career entry and development profile. If you can't find it, download it from


Sara Bubb was a primary teacher before becoming a teacher trainer. She is now an education consultant, lectures at the Institute of Education in London and has written extensively on induction and professional development.

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John Howson & Sara Bubb

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