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Job watch

At the start of this new year, it's worth taking stock of your career. All being well, after a term in teaching you will be well on your way to getting through your induction year. If so, then you might start to ask about staffing in your school and whether any decisions have been made about the arrangements for September.

Certainly, it is essential to know whether the school has rising or falling pupil numbers. Falling rolls can be bad news as far as teaching posts are concerned, and you need to be forewarned - especially if the school is likely to operate on a "first in, last out" basis.

In most schools, even if numbers are falling, things won't be that bad. But in a secondary school you might see your timetable amended, and you could be asked to teach another subject as well as your own specialism.

Look for early warning signs - for example, did that happen to someone last year? If so, it means that you are in a position either to ask for some suitable training for the additional role or to look for another post.

For those who need to look for a new job, signs are mixed for September.

The new Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has a strong grasp of financial matters, an area of the job that caught her predecessor unawares in 2003.

In that case, a school budgets crisis is unlikely.

The introduction of the final part of the workforce agreement in September should see non-contact time introduced for all primary teachers. That should create more posts, despite falling rolls. On the other hand, record numbers of new primary teachers are likely to be entering the job market in 2005, so competition for many posts is likely to be even fiercer than last year. In Wales, for instance, the General Teaching Council for Wales has noticed that only 215 of the 812 primary teachers who qualified in Wales had completed their induction - that's just above one in four. Even among secondary trainees, only 64 per cent completed induction.

There is now a reservoir of under-employed primary staff looking for class teacher posts. Many are employed as classroom assistants or are teachers-in-waiting. They, along with the new cohort of NQTs, will be eager to find suitable positions.

In secondary schools, even in subject areas that have traditionally carried the "shortage" label, there may be a good supply on hand for September since many training courses came a lot closer to hitting targets than at any point in the past 10 years.

As has often been said, the current imbalance between supply and demand, which favours schools, is a rare phenomenon in the education labour market.

In recent times, schools have been chasing teachers, rather than vice versa. And that is likely to be the case once more when retirements rise sharply in the coming few years.

Many readers of this column will be aware of the large numbers of teachers due to retire in the next five years simply by looking around their staffrooms. When those people leave, the number of vacancies will start to increase once again. One early sign of this trend is the fact that in 2004 more than 2,700 headteacher posts were advertised - a record number in recent years.

If you're looking to move jobs this summer, you should make sure your CV reflects the experience you have gained during your induction year. And be prepared to revise it on a regular basis so that it reads favourably when compared with those of the new class of NQTs in 2005.

John Howson

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