Career clinic

11th May 2012 at 01:00
This week Professor John Howson answers questions about a changing job profile and a search for promotion

Roles and redundancy

I am currently a part-time class teacher in a primary school on a permanent contract. I have been asked to work out of class from September, doing intervention work with individual pupils, which I would love to do. However, a lawyer friend has said that my job may not be safe and I could be made redundant if the funding for this intervention work is withdrawn. Is this true? I am particularly worried as my current part-time class role is to be filled by an additional part-time teacher on a permanent contract.

Assuming you were not offered a new contract when asked by your head to take the new role, nothing has changed. In any school, the head has the right to decide how staff roles should be allocated, subject to agreement with the governors (although most governing bodies leave this sort of decision with the head).

If you were recruited as a teacher at the school and continue in that role, and are paid in the same manner as previously, albeit without a regular class, I am not sure what the issue is.

However, if you were offered a new contract as part of the change in role (perhaps linked to a particular funding stream such as the pupil premium), that may be a different matter, and you should be concerned about what would happen if that funding stream came to an end. Much would depend on whether the post was only created because of the specific funding.

As it is, if the school had to make a member of staff redundant, criteria for choosing that person would have to be set by the governing body - if nobody accepted voluntary redundancy. There would also have to be negotiations with the professional associations.

The additional good news is that, with primary pupil numbers on the increase, it is difficult to see why many primary schools would contemplate redundancies in the next few years unless they have spent their budgets very unwisely or are adversely affected by the new funding formula.

Elusive deputy headship

Back in 2008, I had a 100 per cent success rate in getting interviews for deputy head posts. At the time, I had just spent six years as an assistant head. Then I took a job as a senior secondary adviser, which I have been in ever since. I have now gone back to applying for deputy head jobs. However, I have not been offered a single interview. What should I do?

There has been a significant decline in the number of deputy head vacancies over the past few years as schools have reduced the size of their leadership teams, after expanding them when secondary rolls were on the increase.

Now that rolls are falling, there is both less need for such large leadership teams and less cash to pay for them. As a result, there are more candidates chasing each post advertised.

For some reason, governors seem to be averse to appointing to leadership posts those with experience outside schools, and it may be that they do not recognise the additional skills you have acquired in your advisory role. It is funny how those responsible for appointing staff so often assume that once you have left the school environment, you have lost all your skills and experience and gained nothing new.

Now that the National Professional Qualification for Headship rule has been relaxed, have you considered missing out the deputy head stage and applying for headships? I know this suggestion might horrify those traditionalists who believe in progression through all the different ranks before achieving a headship, but a headteacher fulfils a strategic and boundary role within a school and your cross-school experience working as an adviser may well have provided you with this type of expertise.

But if you are lacking recent staff leadership experience, that may worry appointment panels. If you are not even making shortlists for deputy heads, something is awry, so you may want to consider seeking further professional advice.

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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