Careers clinic

14th November 2008 at 00:00
If you have a question, turn to John Howson or Sara Bubb, our experts who offer advice every week

Q: I am at that stage of my teaching career where I feel that I need a bigger challenge. After many successful and enjoyable years of middle management, both curriculum and pastoral, I am looking to move into senior management as an assistant head, but am unsure as to the way ahead. What sort of whole-school initiatives or programmes can I get involved in, in order to prepare for the applications process?

A: If you haven't done so, you should visit the NCSL website ( and look at its programmes for middle managers. One of these may be suitable for you. However, if you have been reading the jobs pages of The TES or visiting the jobs section of the website, you will know the range of assistant headships that schools tend to advertise.

I would have thought that your background made you suitable for many of these. I suggest you try applying for some and see what happens. However, the majority of assistant headships go to those not yet 40, so bear this in mind. If you haven't yet done a higher degree, this might also be a route to think about, but you will need to consider the cost benefit of such a time consuming exercise over shorter more focused activities.

Q: I've had qualified teacher status since 2001, but have been teaching full-time in Australia and haven't taught in the UK since 2003. A supply agency told me my Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) was no longer valid and I would only be paid at a new teacher (NQT) rate. Is this correct?

A: You don't make clear whether you went on to do your induction year in the UK. Normally there is a set time to complete this after gaining QTS. I cannot be sure whether this rule applies also to teachers converting into QTS with an overseas qualification via the OTT (Overseas Trained Teacher) route that I assume you used.

You should contact the Training and Development Agency ( in London and ask for clarification. You might also contact the General Teaching Council for England ( for its view on registration. A further complication is that overseas teachers must convert within four years to QTS or their employment status may no longer be valid.

I am not sure why the agency told you that you would only be paid at the NQT rate (whatever that is) as if you don't have valid QTS then you would expect to be paid on the unqualified scale and can only be employed where no UK trained teacher is available

- 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 completed my Cert Ed as a post-16 lecturer in 2005 and since then I have taught technology in FE colleges and schools. Now that I have decided to stay at a secondary school I have been told I need to get qualified teacher status (QTS) and then spend another year completing induction, even though I am an experienced teacher. Is this right?

A: Yes, that's right. Try not to see these rules as a bore but a way of getting great professional development and strengthening your CV. Apply for a place on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) as soon as possible so long as you have a degree and maths and English GCSE at grade C or above. These are the baseline entry criteria, but getting a place on the GTP is competitive.

The Training and Development Agency website ( is a good place to start looking for information and providers. Once accepted, you'll be audited on how well you're meeting the 33 standards for QTS and then work towards filling the gaps.

You'll have to take the online skills tests in English, maths and ICT. These aren't hard, but you need to prepare for them by doing the practice tests ( With your experience, you should be able to get QTS within a term. As soon as you qualify you can start your induction year.

Unfortunately this can't be done in anything less than a year, no matter how experienced you are. This is great because your induction programme will be individualised for a full year to meet your strengths and areas for development. You get a 10 per cent lighter timetable as well as preparation time that you can spend on professional development activities that meet your needs, and your school will appoint an induction tutor to support, monitor and assess you.

Q: I'm at Glasgow University training to be a teacher but would like to move to London when I finish. Is this possible?

A: Yes, your Scottish teaching qualification will be recognised in England. You will have to join the General Teaching Council for England and when you have had a job for at least a term you register for induction. It's not like Scotland, where you get allocated to a school. For more information, have a look at

- 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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