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Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q) I have been teaching in the independent sector for some years. Although I have two-thirds of an Open University degree, I have never completed it and graduated. I have done some modules on teacher training but don't have a qualification. I would like to switch to teach adults in the further education sector. What are my chances?

A) You don't say what you would like to teach, or why you want to switch sectors. Any potential employer will want to test your motivation for making such a move. Although you may not need a degree to teach in further education, you will find the lack of one a handicap. The lack of any training qualification for working with adults won't help either. Your best bet would be to finish your degree while making contact with the head of the appropriate department at your local college to discuss the possibility of a career change. Frankly, unless you have some expertise that is in demand you may find making the switch difficult.

Q) As a student who has just started a PGCE, I am worried about police checks. Although I don't have a criminal record, some years ago I lived with a partner who had a conviction for drug dealing, although this was before I met him. How do I stand when I come to apply for a teaching post?

A) You were probably asked to complete some form of questionnaire asking if you had a criminal record when you were accepted for a place on the PGCE course. This means that you should have had a police check already. If you don't have a criminal record, including any cautions, I can't see a problem. You can't be held responsible for anything someone else did, particularly as it was before you met the person. If it had happened while you were together, and you were interviewed about the matter by the police, this is a "grey" area. In the future, the police may be able to disclose anything they know about you, even if you were never charged but only gave a witness statement.

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

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