Q I am struggling to find my first teaching post. I have had two interviews, but lost out in both cases to candidates already known to the school. It seems as if every interview has a candidate who they have already chosen. What can I do?

A You have done well to make it to the interview stage. There are probably others who applied and didn't even get that far. I know it is disheartening when it seems that every interview is just a formality and you are there to make up the numbers. Even though it may be the case sometimes, it isn't always that way. There seems to be nothing wrong with your application form, so check on your interview technique. If the feedback is inconsistent, then it may be the schools did have someone in mind and were going through the motions.

However, look for something in your approach that may need attention. Is there anything that couldn't be determined from your application that may be counting against you? You should ask a friend or mentor for advice in the light of the feedback you have been receiving. Remember that every school is meeting you for the first time, and don't allow yourself to become disheartened as it is all too easy to appear defeatist after a while.

Q I am in my NQT year and enjoying teaching. My head of department is leaving for a deputy headship and the department is being amalgamated into a new faculty. A new deputy head post with a TLR2 is being created within the faculty to be responsible for the subject. Can I apply?

A I don't see why not. There is no requirement for any particular length of service before becoming eligible for a TLR (teaching and learning responsibility) payment. However, the post must meet the requirements of such an allowance. As all schools were required to review their staffing arrangements during the autumn of 2005 there should be a good reason why the structure agreed then now needs revision. You will need to check with your professional association that all the relevant steps have been taken before the new arrangements are put into place.

If you decide you don't have enough experience to take on the additional responsibilities then, unless there is a vacancy that the school can advertise, the school will have to make other arrangements. What you must ensure is that you don't take on the work without receiving the appropriate payment

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

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