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Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson.

Q The university where I studied for a master's degree in education a few years ago has written to me about its doctorate in education programme. Is it worth applying for such a degree? I am a head of humanities in a comprehensive.

A It depends what you mean by worthwhile. A doctorate is unlikely to bring any direct financial benefit in your present post. It would also mean about five years of part-time study on top of your present job. Unless you can persuade the school to pay your fees, there will also be considerable financial outlay. What studying for a doctorate will do is widen your horizons and open up a greater range of job opportunities within education. Beyond direct promotion and enhanced career prospects, one of the best reasons for studying for a PhD may be your desire to satisfy a personal interest in a topic you want to study in greater depth.

Q In September I start the final year of my teaching degree at a university in the north of England. I remember reading in The TES last autumn that the number of primary school pupils is falling. I am concerned as to whether there will be a teaching job for me when I graduate.

APrimary school rolls have been falling for some years, but the number of vacancies for primary teachers has been rising since 1996. The number leaving the profession is set to rise over the next few years as more teachers reach retirement age. However, in September there will be more students training to be primary teachers because the Government has increased the number of training places available. Many of these will be on the one-year PGCE course, meaning there may be 1,000 more students looking for teaching posts next summer. Traditionally, the north has fewer vacancies than London and surrounding areas. No one will be able to estimate what the job scene will be like next year until late autumn, as much depends on how much money schools have in their budgets. The more flexible you are regarding location, the less you need be concerned about finding your first appointment.

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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