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Ideal job proves more elusive

The Government is still working flat out to recruit new teachers. But it doesn't look as if it's going to be quite as easy for you to land your ideal teaching job as it was two years ago, according to John Howson, the TES recruitment expert (see page 11). So you should prepare well to make the most of the job opportunities. For any student teacher looking for their first job, this issue of 'First Appointments' is indispensable.

In our section on job-hunting, we show you how to read a job ad, what headteachers are looking for when they shortlist, advice on looking for your first job and what you need to know about references and your legal rights. Harry Dodds and Claire Fox offer their views on what makes a"good school" on page 6, and if you've got as far as negotiating contracts, you can take succour from David Miliband, minister responsible for teacher training, who, in his interview with TES reporter Karen Thornton for 'First Appointments', tells you to stand up for your rights and demand a decent contract (page 22).

Meanwhile, unless you're part-time or studying for a BEd, you've still got two terms of training left. But are you being fully equipped to take on the rigours of the job? Shirley Lawes, who's spent the last few years studying theory in teacher training, argues that you're being sold short, and that the profession is being de-skilled (see page 20).

Then there's school. Bad behaviour is always a big topic for teachers, but have matters deteriorated as much as most people fear? You might be reassured that it was always thus, after reading teachers' complaints through history, unearthed by Sue Jones on page 28.

The underachievement of black boys in secondary education is considered by some to be the great scandal of our education system. The subject hasn't received a huge amount of media coverage, but on page 32, Andrea Davey expresses the concerns that I suspect many new teachers are reluctant to admit they share.

It may be true that the number of applications for teacher training are healthier than they have been for some years, but it's widely acknowledged that retention of those teachers is a problem - many leave the profession after a few years, and burn-out is often cited as a serious problem. Janet Murray has taken a look at depression in the teaching profession, and Mike Fitzpatrick suggests it's not so much workload that's the problem as teachers' lack of control over it (page 46).

As always, I'm interested to hear your views on any of these subjects, and anything else you've found interesting, invaluable or irksome in this issue of First Appointments. Email me at Enjoy your spring term.

Fiona Flynn Editor, First Appointments

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