Careers clinic

7th November 2008 at 00:00
If you have a question, turn to John Howson or Sara Bubb, our experts who offer advice every week

I am a secondary drama teacher in the final stages of my NQT year in a school where I am desperately unhappy. I aim to complete my NQT year and leave. I intend to move from Essex to Hampshire for personal reasons and if I fail to secure a permanent position in a school there, I will undertake supply teaching. Will I still be entitled to my golden hello of Pounds 2,500 if I leave after my NQT year and go ahead with supply teaching? If I cannot get supply work for my subject, does this mean that the golden hello becomes void if I take a break until I find a secure teaching position?

Here are the rules on golden hellos from the Training and Development Agency website (www.tda.gov.uk):

- The applicant must hold qualified teacher status. Teachers must apply within 12 months of successfully completing their induction year.

- Eligible teachers must be employed by a local authority or school to teach in a secondary maintained school, a secondary maintained or non-maintained special school or an academy in England. Supply teachers employed by private agencies are not eligible.

- Teachers must be employed to teach the subject for which they trained.

This means that you have 12 months after completing induction within which to apply for your golden hello. You don't have to be in the same school, but supply teachers are not eligible, so you must have a contract with one of the institutions mentioned above.

I'm in the middle of writing a supporting statement. Since a lot of emphasis is placed on this part of the application process, I wondered if you could provide me with any tips.

The supporting statement is your chance to explain why you want the post and why you should be appointed. It is important to make sure that it relates to the post and the institution where the job is. If all your experience has been in inner-city schools and you are applying for a post in a market town, explain the change in direction.

Start with your strongest points and finish with something in your favour, while placing the less helpful points, such as a lack of experience if you are seeking promotion, somewhere in the middle.

I would beware of appearing to be obsessed with any issue or teaching technique that might alienate the reader. Show you have done some homework about the employer and the responsibilities for the post. If you are called for interview, you can use your supporting statement as a starting point. But you must be able to substantiate everything you have written. Any exaggeration will haunt you at interview.

- 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.

I have young children so would like to start my teaching career working part-time. Would induction take longer than a year if I did? In the present economic climate and uncertain job market, could I do induction via supply teaching?

The economic climate is bound to have an effect on the job situation in private schools as parents find that they can't afford the fees.

Losing pupils means losing income and so inevitably there will be a squeeze on jobs. Famous high status schools with good financial management will weather the storm, but others are risky.

The state sector is a much safer bet, especially as state schools' income will rise from the influx of children from private schools.

You will be safest with a permanent contract, but schools rarely give these to new teachers working part-time. Indeed, some schools have a policy of giving all new teachers a temporary contract, which is unfair.

Part-time work is not easy to come by, so you need to start looking now and telling everyone you know.

The induction period lasts for the equivalent of a school year, so if you're working two and a half days a week it'll take two years to complete.

You can do induction on supply but only if you have a contract for a term. You can't rely on supply work: there will be days when five schools want you and weeks when the phone never rings, depending on where you live and the time of year.

Childcare can be a nightmare when you're on supply too. There is a lot to think about and no easy answers - but well done for planning ahead.

I have been asked to do one lunch duty a week, but I need that time to get ready for the afternoon's lessons. Do I have to?

The School Teachers' Pay and Conditions document (which state schools follow) says that teachers should not be required to undertake midday supervision, and shall be allowed a break of reasonable length either between school sessions or between the hours of 12 and 2pm. So, no, you don't have to do lunch duty. Simply explain your reasoning: that you are prioritising quality teaching and learning.

- 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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