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Job Watch

The job market remains in its autumn lull. Few adverts appear at this time of year, except for the more senior posts, which have a longer recruitment cycle that often involves the whole of a school's governing body.

It is still too early to determine the precise trend in the market for next year, but you should expect fewer teachers around from Australia and New Zealand in January as schools no longer see the need to recruit as many staff from overseas. The same applies to supply work. Larger schools have realised the benefits of employing their own supply staff, rather than boosting agencies' profits. Smaller schools don't have that advantage, although they probably don't need as many supply teachers, especially if they can manage their own staffing patterns.

Many schools, especially those that have deficits on their budgets, will still be facing severe financial pressure by next September. So, if you are only on a one-year contract, it would be sensible to approach the powers that be early in the new year to ask what your prospects are for a new contract. They probably won't be able to give you an answer straight away, but you should try to get some kind of timescale from them. You don't want to be kept hanging around or told that it will be sorted out and not to worry, only to find later that your post has been axed. In these uncertain times, it pays to keep tabs on what's happening.

There will be fewer pupils in schools next year, especially in the primary sector. And with budgets more and more dependent on the number of pupils a school has on roll, this will affect staffing. Some 6,000 teaching jobs disappeared from the primary sector in England between 2002 and 2004, although around 2,500 new teaching posts were created in secondaries. But even that number will not rise much further. With record numbers of PGCE students set to qualify in the summer of 2005, job-hunting will be tough in popular secondary subjects and most of the primary sector. So it's best to start early.

The good news is that with more teachers reaching retirement age, new jobs will be created. But even these extra jobs may be offset by any success the Government might have in retaining the large numbers of teachers who have traditionally quit the job during their first three years of teaching.

My advice is, don't take your career for granted. Manage it actively and you are likely to be rewarded with lots of opportunities for an enjoyable future in teaching.

John Howson

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