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Keep your eyes peeled

Activity in the job market is nearing its peak around now. While the extra cash announced by the Chancellor in his budget may help some schools, the present job round is being driven by financial assessments for 2006-7. As readers of this column will know, the two main factors affecting the current job scene are fewer children and more retiring teachers. So while schools need new teachers to replace the retiring ones, falling rolls means less overall funding and fewer posts available.

If you think that the independent sector might offer a way out, be warned.

At a recent conference it was claimed that even fee-paying schools will not be immune to downsizing, as overseas demand may have peaked. Rising school fees are affecting the home market of some schools, especially the rural boarding schools with only limited access to the buoyant day-pupil market.

Schools have started to merge as a result of the pressure.

The Government's drive to encourage under-qualified young adults to acquire new skills may mean that the further education job market is the only one where growth is likely. But FE is a part of the labour market not regulated by a pay review body, so salaries in this sector have not always kept pace with those in schools.

Science teachers can look forward to a rosy future though. The Chancellor's budget announced plans to increase the number of these teachers in training, though it didn't say where schools would find the money to employ them. The new Education Bill contains a clause relating to the teaching of the three separate sciences at key stage 4, rather than the dual science award that is popular now. This means extra science teachers, but is possibly better news for physicists and chemists than for biologists.

Indeed, if there is no real extra money for schools, it is fair to ask whose jobs will go if more science posts are to be created from existing funds?

Good news for primary teachers, though: the number of primary headships advertised this year is at a new record. Once replacement headteachers have been recruited, there will be opportunities for classroom teachers. Many of these jobs will be too late to be advertised via the pool system, so if you're looking for a second job in a new school, keep your eyes peeled for those job ads.

John Howson

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