Career Clinic

3rd February 2012 at 00:00
This week, Professor John Howson answers questions on changing jobs after a year and pursuing promotion

Too quick to move on?

I have tried very hard to settle in to my new school, but I'm not enjoying it. I really want to apply for a new job, but I am unsure about my options. Would schools view my record with suspicion if I quit my current school after one year?

It will partly be down to how you sell yourself in your application. Remember, any application is designed to persuade the school advertising that you would be the best candidate for the job, and that you have the skills and expertise that they are looking for. However, anyone looking at your application is going to see you have spent only a year at your present school.

Much may depend on what your employment record was like before you joined your new school. Several moves in quick succession may send a negative signal that you will want to address in your statement, perhaps by demonstrating that you have had the opportunity to learn from several different experiences and are now looking for a longer-term assignment where you can stay for several years.

The alternative is to focus on what is wrong at your present school and see whether you can do anything about it. After all, there must have been something about the school that attracted you to it in the first place.

As the new recruitment season begins, I must reiterate my advice to anyone looking for a job. You are interviewing the school as much as they are interviewing you. If you feel in any way uncomfortable during the interview process, think very carefully about whether this is the right school for you. This is a difficult maxim in a competitive job market, but if you can secure a place on one shortlist, you should be strong enough to do so again.


I have been a teacher for 12 years, but I have not yet taken the plunge into senior management because I wanted to enjoy my family. I am now looking to further my career or perhaps change pathways altogether. But I have no idea which route to take.

The first thing to do is to consider your options. You need to narrow them down by asking yourself what you like about your work, and what you dislike about teaching - or would hate in any other job.

Once you have created a list of what you enjoy (and are likely to be good at) and what you want to avoid, the next step is to consider what might be open to you. As our careers progress, some doors open, but others close. After 12 years in teaching, you will know whether you are considered a really good teacher and if you have taken steps to enhance your skills and knowledge or have just been coasting along while focusing on your family.

When you have figured out what direction you want to go in, consider what you have to offer. You first step in this may be to improve the quality of your CV in relevant areas.

Most teachers in your situation would be thinking about senior management roles within schools, as this is where the greatest number of opportunities for them arise each year.

The normal route to take in preparation for this is to get some form of middle-management position with responsibility for other teaching staff. If you have not had such experience, that may be the obvious next step.

I would suggest, however, that you consider what effect any promotion might have on the time you can spend with your family - from your comments it is clear that this is important to you. Good luck.

Professor John Howson is our resident career expert, with 40 years in education, including spells as a teacher, academic, school recruitment researcher and government adviser.

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