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Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q Is it still possible to apply for the fast-track training scheme? I want to teach secondary mathematics.

A Yes, the closing date for most secondary courses is not until the end of March. As a fast-track teacher you are eligible for extra allowances during training and your first few years in teaching. According to the fast track website, it is possible to earn pound;29,533 within two years of qualifying. For more information, go to www.fasttrackteaching.gov.uk.

Q I am in the last year of a three-year contract teaching art in an international school. When I return to the United Kingdom I would like to work with children with emotional or behavioural difficulties, or in a young offenders' institution. How might I go about this? Should I return to mainstream teaching first; and will my credibility as a classroom teacher have been affected by my time in the private sector?

A The answer to the credibility question ought to be no, but it will partly depend upon how you sell yourself. What experience have you gained during your time teaching abroad? You may have worked with many different cultures and artistic traditions, both native to the country you are working in and contributed to by your pupils, who may have come from all over the world.

Have you kept up with developments in curriculum and assessment techniques in schools in this country? Do you, for instance, teach GCSE?

You don't say why you now want to teach in a special school, or young offenders' institution, or what you have done to help equip yourself for this. It might be better to return to mainstream teaching and undertake some professional development to enhance your understanding of the needs of these groups, who can be both very demanding and very rewarding to teach.

However, many special schools often have staffing vacancies and you might well be able to find a teaching job straight away. You would have to decide whether you were ready for it.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at john.howson@lineone.net

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