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Fewer pupils, fewer jobs

So, you have survived your first term in teaching as an NQT. As your second term gets under way, you will be assessing whether or not you want to stay at your present school for a second year. For some, who are on fixed term contracts, there will be no option but to find another post. For others, the choice may be based on a range of factors such as the need to broaden experience or to move from a school that has turned out not to be the experience you wanted.

Jobs for September will start appearing from now. If past years are any guide, the bulk of adverts for September will appear between the end of March and mid-May, with the peak just after the Easter break.

My prognosis this spring is that for many schools there will be fewer pupils next year than this year, and possibly fewer teaching jobs. The fact that teachers no longer undertake administrative tasks, coupled with the staffing reviews of last term, may have revealed some surplus staffing that will cut the number of posts schools need to advertise. The picture will be patchy across the country and there will be "hot spots", even in parts of the country where there will be few jobs overall.

That doesn't mean that there won't be any jobs. There is always staff turnover. For instance, from September to the end of November this year, secondary schools in England and Wales advertised more than 3,000 teaching posts, even though this is a slack time of year. Around one-third were temporary, including a large number in some subjects that were to cover maternity leave.

More than 50 schools advertised two or more posts during the autumn term as a result of a teacher going on maternity leave. These posts were most common among teachers of languages and least common in design and technology, other than in food technology.

In the primary sector, jobs remain harder to come by. The posts that are on offer are not advertised widely. If you are seeking to change schools, you may not get to hear about all the opportunities on offer. Local knowledge will be paramount so keep your ear to the ground. There will be meetings you attend as an NQT where you pick up snippets about who is moving or has gained promotion.

The TES website will help by providing an alert service that can warn you when a job of the type you are looking for appears. But check the jobs pages in detail for the small print of the advert to see what the job and the school are like. The key is good preparation: keep your CV up to date and be prepared to act quickly if you spot a likely job.

John Howson

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