QA. Ask a careers expert

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 an overseas trained teacher and hold a BEd in psychology and RE.

I've not taught for the past three years but want to return to teaching.

My certificates have been verified by the National Recognition and Information Centre (Naric) and confirmed to be of UK standard. I have applied to lots of schools but nothing positive has come out of it. What is the way forward?

A You don't say why you have not been teaching for the past three years and whether that might have a bearing on why schools are not considering you.

When applicants are in short supply, then schools will look at almost anyone who might fill the vacancy.

Nowadays, schools can be choosier: with falling rolls on the horizon for many secondary schools, entry grade jobs are generally more difficult to find as some schools are not replacing teachers who are leaving, to avoid possible future redundancies.

As you will have discovered, there is a market for teaching jobs where buyers and sellers compete with each other. The procedure is simple: you apply for a post you want, along with everyone else interested, and the school selects the person they want to employ. You can choose what jobs to apply for, but schools can choose the best person within legal and ethical frameworks for recruitment.

This means that there should be no discrimination. Your reference to Naric suggests that your qualifications were obtained overseas.

You also don't say whether you have already taught in England and have obtained qualified teacher status through the overseas trained teacher scheme or some other route or whether all your experience has been outside of the UK.

If the latter is the case, then I am not surprised that you are having difficulties, especially in view of the subjects you want to teach.

Have you tried talking to recruitment agencies and those responsible for recruitment in the local authorities in your area?

Any experience of working in schools, even as a volunteer, and any study of the education system in England may help your profile.

Have you also considered the further education sector, where there are more psychology courses, even if there might be less use for your RE qualifications?

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