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Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q Whatever happened to the "returners' bonus" that was available at the start of the year? I remember reading about it in The TES, but can't find any recent references.

A This scheme offered teachers who returned to the classroom during part of the last school year a bonus for "returning to teaching". To date, the Department for Education and Skills has given no indication that it is considering re-introducing the scheme this year. Current policies seem aimed at retaining existing teachers and recruiting new entrants rather than providing financial assistance to returners, although there are still courses available for teachers wanting to return after a career break.

Q I am a 30-year-old unqualified English teacher working at a Japanese university. As well as teaching, I am developing materials, specifically, writing textbooks. I would like to transfer these skills to a career in the UK. I'm considering applying for a master's in TESOL. But I am worried that all that will be available after the master's will be low-paid ESL jobs, which I could get with a four-week TEFL certificate. I'd like to know the possible career progression in TESOL and what kind of salary I could earn.

A Sadly, salaries in many areas of the TESOL TEFL market tend to be poor. There are some private sector providers that pay as little as they can get away with, in what has traditionally been a seller's market. So many "teachers" opt for a short four-week training course then teach part-time or for a short time before moving on.

Career progression is often limited to posts such as directors of studies or other management positions. Some tutors set up their own businesses to work with clients they know in the commercial world. The best salaries are often in the state-regulated education sector, but posts tend to be limited, and difficult to find. I doubt the MA will enhance your earning power significantly. Work out the full costs before embarking on the course.

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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