Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q Recent news articles suggest there is a shortage of educational psychologists, yet competition for places on the one-year MSc course is very high. I am an experienced teacher with several years' experience as a Senco in a school, but I have only been offered an unfunded place. The course costs are quite high, with fees alone coming to nearly pound;9,000, with living expenses on top. Is it possible to find an LEA that would sponsor me?

A Each year, the Government agrees to fund a number of places for trainee educational psychologists in recognition of the need for such professionals. There has been some disquiet recently about whether the funded places are sufficient to fill all the vacancies. This potential shortfall means that those people prepared to fund themselves may well be able to find work at the end of their training. After all, this is what happens in the private sector, where many students fund their own MBAs while others are paid for by a company. You must decide whether funding your own training will provide a satisfactory return in both financial and career terms.

Q I read the recent front-page story in The TES about schools abandoning the teaching of modern languages as a result of changes in the national curriculum. Is it worth taking up my PGCE place this autumn?

A There has been a shortfall in the number of languages teachers being trained in recent years. The reports of schools cutting down on languages courses for some pupils at key stage 4 might suggest there will be a need for fewer teachers, but these two factors may serve to cancel each other out. The additional bonus for languages teachers will be that more of the older students studying a language will be doing so because they want to, not because they have to. Teaching also offers many other career opportunities beyond the classroom, so if your decision to study for a PGCE was motivated by a genuine interest in joining the profession, my advice would be to take up your place.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Do you have a career question for him? Email:

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