John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes university. To ask him a question, email him at

Q. I am in my second year of teaching in a small, mixed age Roman Catholic primary. I teach a class of 31 Year 45s. I am the PSHE co-ordinator and the design and technology co-ordinator. Both are new areas for the school.

I am in the process of completing other courses that will lead to an award.

I am looking ahead, what would be my next step up the ladder and how can I start preparing for it?

A. During your first two years in teaching you have successfully passed your induction and introduced some new programmes into the school as well as developing your teaching skills.

You are rightly looking ahead and asking what next? You don't say whether teaching is your first job or whether you trained after working outside of education for a few years.

Assuming this is your first job, and you are still in your early twenties, then a couple of possibilities occur. Firstly, stay where you are and see the PSHE programme through to completion.

It is one thing to introduce a programme, but another to ensure it produces results.

An alternative is to move to a larger school where you can gain experience in a different environment and consolidate what you have learnt. Larger schools offer more opportunities for promotion and a teaching and learning responsibility payment (between pound;2,306 and pound;11,275 a year). You should also look longer-term to ask what you want as a goal.

However, with the additional studying you are doing please make sure that you provide for some space in your life. Work-life balance isn't just a Government phrase; it really means something, so pace yourself.

Clearly, you have achieved a great deal already, and you will be successful, but don't become too anxious. Finally, talk to those who can offer you advice on the local circumstances as the next few years may be difficult in the primary sector in some areas of the country. Also ensure that you create your portfolio to demonstrate what you have achieved. This will help in those cases where you apply promotion, but are not felt ready by those who are only looking to appoint someone older than you. Don't be deterred from setting out on your career after only two years in teaching

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