Career advice

15th June 2001 at 01:00
Q How do I go about transferring from secondary teaching to primary? I have spent seven years teaching history in a comprehensive school and am a department head. I am interested in KS2 and possible management opportunities. Any advice?

A Although it is possible to transfer from secondary to primary teaching, you are unlikely to receive much official encouragement, unless you are prepared to work in those parts of the country where there are shortages. Pupil numbers in the primary sector are in decline, due to a falling birth rate, so even with reductions in class sizes there may not be a need for many extra teachers.

However, check the Teacher Training Agency website (www.tta. to see whether there is a conversion course you could take.

You could also try applying for a management post in one of the remaining middle schools that bridge the gap between the primary and secondary sectors.

Q When I was a student I never paid my poll tax and I have two county court judgments against my name. Would this situation bar me from entering the teaching profession?

A Criminal convictions are always considered before anyone is allowed to enter teaching. However, civil court decisions such as county cout judgments are another matter.

It is often best to be open about these matters, particularly if they may have arisen as a result of a point of principle. If you have had, say, 10 years of employment since graduating, I don't believe the court judgments should be a barrier to entry. You could ask the General Teaching Council for its view.

Q I am a mature student studying for a BA degree in French. I hope to join the teaching profession but have noticed that many job advertisements ask for a second language to be taught up to key stage 3. Would an A-level in Spanish be good enough?

A Schools like the flexibility in timetabling staff that a second subject offers them. You could select a PGCE course that is sympathetic to this problem and which would allow you to develop your Spanish. Also, does your university language centre offer any courses that might help to improve your spoken command of Spanish?

You could, however, still find a school that will offer you a post just teaching French.

At present there are no set minimum academic standards for teachers of any subject in secondary schools. In the present staffing difficulties, many heads are requiring staff to teach "out of field".

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