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Careers clinic

If you've got a career problem, you know who to call - our experts. John Howson and Sara Bubb offer advice every week.

If you've got a career problem, you know who to call - our experts. John Howson and Sara Bubb offer advice every week.

JOHN HOWSON replies:

Q: I have been teaching in a small primary school for seven years and have completed the Leading from the Middle development course. I would love to be a deputy head, but do I have enough experience? Should I apply for jobs in a larger school first?

A: This is a tricky one. Assuming that you don't want to relocate, much will depend upon the pattern of schools in your area and the frequency of deputy head appointments. If there are mostly small schools, and few vacancies arise in larger schools, then I would look for deputy or assistant headships in a smaller school. If there is a greater mix of school sizes, you could apply for a post with a Teaching and Learning Responsibility in a larger school and then progress to a deputy headship.

Intelligence is the key to success, and talking to those in the know in your area will help identify the best route forward. As you have completed the Leading from the Middle programme, this will no doubt help with finding another job and you will have made contacts through the programme and its network.

If you are in an area with a high turnover of deputy heads, then apply for one now. However, if you are in a more settled area, progression will be more difficult, but that should not stop you applying to test the reaction.

Q: I am a secondary languages teacher but I've recently discovered a love of all things fashion and textiles. Would it be possible to retrain as a textiles teacher, and how can I go about it?

A: As you already have Qualified Teacher Status you will not be eligible to retrain fully. After all, you know how to teach. What you need is subject knowledge and application to teaching. How sympathetic is your school and does it teach fashion and textiles as part of design and technology and the new diplomas? Would it fund some appropriate training at the local FE college, if it is available, or at a higher level at a university?

If you wanted to transfer to another subject covered by the Open University, I would say do a degree and then start applying for jobs in the new area. This is more tricky. You probably need allies and advice from within the design and technology community. If there is no one in your school, try the local inspectors or Data, the Design and Technology Association.

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.

SARA BUBB replies:

Q: I have heard that new teachers in England with previous experience can start higher up the pay scale, but I am struggling to get a clear view of what this actually means. What type of experiences or additional qualifications might count for pay purposes?

A: I'll do my best but there are no clear rules. All new teachers start at the beginning of the six point main scale - M1, which is pound;25,000 in inner London, pound;20,627 outside London - but there is the possibility for schools to start someone on higher than M1 in recognition of relevant experience.

Qualifications have no link to pay, a fact that surprises people from other employment backgrounds. Some local authorities give guidance on where somebody should start on the pay scale, such as one point for every three years of relevant experience, but decisions are at the discretion of individual schools. This leads to huge anomalies. If you think you have relevant experience, write to the governing body outlining exactly what it is and why it will be beneficial to the school. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain: each point on the main scale is worth upwards of pound;1,500.

Q: I've taken a year out after my PGCE and am working in a school in Tanzania. If I managed to acquire a job in an English school, would I be able to count that as my NQT year?

A: No. Your experience in Tanzania will be valuable and you'll return the better for it, but you will still have to complete induction when you return. To teach in a state school in England you must successfully complete your induction year and that can only be done in England or one of a handful of other places (Wales, British Schools in Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Service Children's Education schools in Germany and Cyprus).

There are tight rules surrounding induction and an appropriate body (a local authority or the Independent Schools' Teacher Induction Panel) makes the decision about whether you pass - schools simply make a recommendation. The fact that a school overseas teaches in English or follows England's national curriculum is neither here nor there.

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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