Careers clinic

10th October 2008 at 01:00
If you've got a problem, you know who to call - our experts. John Howson and Sara Bubb offer advice every week

Q: I am a head of history and last year started looking for head of humanities posts. However, I lack confidence and was turned down three times after interviews. Are there courses I could take to build my confidence? Alternatively, what are my options outside of teaching? I'm 33 and want to be sure I'm on the right path before time runs away from me.

A: You raise two important issues: how to convince an interview panel and whether to look for a post outside teaching.

The first is relatively easy. You can go into any bookshop and find lots of books on boosting self-confidence and similarly on the web. I don't know of any courses specifically for teachers, but you might look at the National College for School Leadership website ( to see whether there are any middle management programmes that have personal development as part of the course.

First impressions are vital. Ask a friend to tell you frankly about how you would appear to a stranger. Try to analyse why you lack confidence in certain situations. I assume you cope well in the classroom - you have become a head of history after all. You might look for an evening class in personal development and confidence building.

Why do you think leaving teaching would help? If you want a career in any field rather than a subordinate role you will need to address your self- confidence.

Since you can stand in front of a class every day and perform as a teacher, what is it that inhibits you with other adults? Can you think yourself into a role of a more self-confident person for an interview?

By thinking about a career outside teaching are you giving up? After all, you have had interviews for head of humanities jobs; some who applied for those three jobs won't even have got that far. Might you just be going thorough a low patch, as you haven't been successful so far?

There's not much more advice I can give, except to say remember Robert the Bruce and his spider - even if it isn't your period in history.

Q: What pay scale should Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) be on?

A: Broadly, ASTs have an 18-point pay spine that ranges from pound;35,794 to pound;54,417 (pound;42,559 to pound;61,188 in inner London). Check out the following link for the pay leaflet issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. There is a section on AST pay with a link to a more detailed document. Visit

John Howson

John Howson worked as a secondary school teacher in London for seven years before moving into teacher training. He is now a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

Q: I'm a teacher from New Zealand with teaching diplomas and a university degree and have been trying to get qualified teacher status (QTS). I'm teaching in a secondary school, working with dyslexic children, but there's no provider willing to take me on because my degree is in education and I teach special needs. Have you any ideas as to what I can do?

A: Sorry to hear you've had difficulties - you sound like an asset to the educational system. You can teach in England for four years without QTS, though it's great that you want to get it now. In my experience, people become more effective teachers in English schools through gaining QTS, and it gives them a focus for their development. Another incentive is that you can be assessed for exemption from induction at the same time as for QTS if you've been teaching for more than two years in this country or elsewhere.

If you haven't done so already, contact the Training and Development Agency for Schools' information line on 0845 6000 991 and ask for a pack of materials. The first thing to check is qualifications. You will need evidence of: a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelors degree; a qualification equivalent to GCSE grade C or above in mathematics and English, and if you intend to teach primary or key stage 23, you must also have achieved a standard equivalent to a grade C in a GCSE science subject.

Visit the National Academic Recognition Centre website to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level.

Then apply directly to an employment-based initial teacher training provider in your area - there's a list on the TDA website Places are limited and shortage subjects are prioritised so apply to large providers as soon as possible. They will assess and hopefully approve your application, and then discuss your training needs.

Q: Can I be a private or home tutor with QTS only? I have not done my induction year. Also will I have to register with the General Teaching Council if I do decide to tutor?

A: Yes, you can do tuition with QTS and you don't have to register with the council unless you're teaching in state schools. But I'm left wondering why you'd want to avoid induction and the council - have you got anything to hide?

Sara Bubb

Sara Bubb was a primary teacher before becoming a teacher trainer. She is now an education consultant, lectures at the Institute of Education in London and has written extensively on induction and professional development.


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