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If you've got a problem, you know who to call - our expert, John Howson, answers this week's featured career questions

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If you've got a problem, you know who to call - our expert, John Howson, answers this week's featured career questions

Q: I've been teaching primary for 13 years, with the past five years at an independent school. I'm English co-ordinator and sports coach, but want to get a management post. Will time in the independent sector be held against me? Family commitments mean I don't really want to move out of south Devon.

A: Since September last year there have been two adverts for deputy heads in Torbay, seven in Devon and nine in Dorset placed by state-funded schools in the primary sector. Of these, seven were in Church of England primary schools and one was an infant school. This demonstrates the problem of wanting to stay in the same area.

However, with your background there is no reason why you shouldn't be successful, especially if you look at the larger schools. Another possibility is to look in the secondary PE section for PE partnership co- ordinators that link primary and secondary schools.

If you can start the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) while you are looking that would be a good idea as you have nothing to lose. I don't think these days that having worked in the private sector will count against you, but having a limited travel range might.

Q: I am a secondary drama teacher but would like to investigate transferring to primary or early years. How would I go about doing this? Do I need to retrain?

A: Do you feel confident teaching a range of subjects more than you like teaching drama? That is what the change would mean. As you have Qualified Teacher Status you can officially teach in the primary sector, but with there being more candidates than posts in many parts of the country, anyone without experience or training will find the change of sectors difficult. There is no funding available for retraining between sectors.

Can you do out-of-school work with primary age pupils in drama to show you know something of the age group? Might you work on, say a drama presentation for new pupils before they leave primary schools to help them settle in? This would help your school and get you into primary schools.

Realistically, you should find an opportunity to talk with a primary headteacher about your chances of making the switch. It will be difficult. The dramatic route would be to resign and look for supply work in the primary sector, but I don't recommend this.

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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.

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