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Q I completed my training in 2005 and worked as a supply teacher for a term. I didn't find a teaching post until this September. When I was a student, I registered with one of the teacher associations as a student member, but let my membership lapse when my supply job ended. Now I have started teaching again, I wonder whether it is worth bothering paying a subscription on top of my registration to the General Teaching Council. Frankly, I could do with the money.

A You have only to visit the bulletin boards such as The TES Staffroom site and read through the threads about pay and conditions and redundancies to know both how complex employment law can be, and how helpful it is to have support if something goes wrong.

This is especially if you are working in an area where falling rolls might mean redundancies in the next few years.

Although I always tell teachers to take charge of their own careers, you should still make use of advice. The teacher associations also offer benefits ranging from organising professional development activities to discounts on goods and services. These discounts will probably help save most, if not all, of the cost of your subscription.

If you chose a particular association as a student for a good reason then it would seem sensible to re-register. Joining online is normally possible, and only takes a few minutes.

It is worth remembering that the professional associations have a different role to that of the General Teaching Council even though their members play an important part in the governance of the Counci *

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

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