Career Clinic

30th March 2012 at 01:00
This week Professor John Howson answers questions about advisory teaching roles and a modelling dilemma

Change of direction

I have been a science teacher for about 15 years. However, I would like to go into another aspect of teaching such as advisory work. What steps would I need to take to make this kind of change? I have not seen many advertisements for vacancies in this field recently.

There used to be a well-trodden path from the classroom into this type of work as an advisory teacher and then an adviser, often for local authorities.

At present, there are likely to be far fewer jobs, possibly because many local authorities no longer have the funding to support such teams. Where these services still remain, they do so because schools are prepared to buy in the advice from local authorities or other sources.

For advisory work, an MA in teaching and learning might be useful, along with strong evidence of curriculum support and development and perhaps, as a science teacher, work with the Association for Science Education or another science subject association.

You will also have to enjoy working with adults; surprisingly, not all teachers seem to do so. Other possible alternatives include work with trainee teachers or moving into the inspection field. The development of "teaching schools" by the present government may open up new opportunities to both retain a teaching timetable - along with up-to-date knowledge of the classroom - and the chance to pass on this knowledge and associated skills to the next generation of teachers.

Once the current debate about how schools are organised is settled, it is likely that the need for good-quality professional development and training for teachers will never have been greater. Whether it will be provided by schools, universities or the private sector it is too early to tell at this point.

For more information, see

An underwear issue

I am considering entering an underwear modelling competition. In the unlikely event that I make it to the final 30, pictures of me would be open to the public vote. The competition itself is all about confidence and fun, rather than being sultry and sexy. It's something I have always wanted to try, but I'm worried about it spoiling my chances of getting a job at the end of my degree. As a trainee teacher, is this a bad idea?

We live in an age in which communication is instantaneous. An email sent inadvertently can be forwarded to millions, probably faster than microbes can multiply. What's more, once it is out there in the ether, an email or a photograph exists for ever. A copy will always be somewhere and can pop up at any moment. What we did as students didn't usually matter in my day. Photographs were relatively expensive and difficult to copy easily. Now, with digital cameras and video, not to mention smartphones and tablets, capturing images and storing them is straightforward.

All this is by way of saying that trying to keep your life outside of school away from your pupils is probably impossible these days. If you don't believe me, do an internet search on the subject. As a teacher, you will be expected not to do anything that could bring the profession into disrepute. This is despite the abolition of the General Teaching Council for England. Indeed, we do not know whether the Secretary of State will take a more or less permissive line than the GTC on this type of issue.

As a result, you would be well advised not even to consider such a competition. If you want a career as a teacher, there is no point in risking blighting it at the beginning. Sadly, gossip and innuendo are in demand, and you have only to look along the rack of magazines in any shop to see the sort of story that might be written and would upset a governing body, even in 20 years' time.

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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