Careers clinic

16th January 2009 at 00:00
Our experts answer your questions

Am I worrying unnecessarily?

Q: I have been told that our department is having a trainee teacher and as we are quite a small department it has been mentioned that she will take some of my classes. I am a new teacher and am a bit worried about someone coming in to my classes and learning from me as I feel I am still starting out myself. I am worried that all the progress I made with the pupils will go out the window with the changeover to the trainee. I'm not even sure if, as an NQT, I am qualified enough to do written observations of the trainee, either formal or informal. Am I worrying unnecessarily?

A: There are no rules here except those of common sense. Being observed by a trainee should not be a problem so long as you aren't made to feel uncomfortable about it.

It could help you to have someone who is more of a peerbeginner to discuss the minutiae of a lesson with. However, I don't think it's wise for the trainee to take on your classes because you have got to demonstrate the core standards in your own teaching. And you need the chance to do so and develop relationships without someone else having the class.

Your classes need stability so that they make progress. Certainly the teacher training institution would not feel too pleased by their trainee working with an NQT's classes.

I suggest you speak to your head of department and induction tutor about your concerns.

Your department should not have agreed to take a trainee if it can't provide appropriate classes. SB

My interview nerves get the better of me.

Q: I have just lost out on another super job because of interview nerves. I had done all the right things: researched the school; prepared answers for obvious questions; arrived in good time; and so on. But when I got into the interview room, everything went out of the window. My brain scrambled and I talked complete rubbish.

Friends and family are getting frustrated. I really need a job now and have a family relying on me. Please help, it is happening repeatedly.

A: You know what you need to do, but for some reason you won't do it. The Teacher Support Line ( offers a coaching service. You do need somebody to talk to in detail about the point at which it all goes wrong. Do you manage any demonstration lessons without a problem? Are your answers too long? You could try a bit of verbal tennis by repeating the question back to allow yourself more time to think. But, in the end some mentored practice may be the only way forward.

Even if you are a trainee, you were successful at interview for your training course. If you are a teacher, you must already have been successful, so don't give up in despair, but do analyse why your brain is scrambling. JH

Is there an equivalent qualification that I should be working towards?

Q: Last year I completed my PGCE in post-compulsory education and gained Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. However, I am working in a sixth form at a school. Is there an equivalent qualification that I should be working towards?

A: Your QTLS only qualifies you to teach in a further education college, but if you are planning to stay in the school sector in England you need to get qualified teacher status (QTS).

You can do this while working by enrolling on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP). This will be tailored to your needs in achieving the 33 standards and, depending on your experience, you may find that it only takes a term. Once you have QTS you'll be on induction. Have a look at the TDA website for more information. SB

I've got itchy feet.

Q: Since I was a newly qualified teacher (NQT) I've been working in the same school for 10 years. I have moved from Year 4 to reception, taking on different roles. The trouble is that I'm uncertain that I want to stay. I teach in Devon, and having read online forum posts and from experience, I know how difficult it is to get jobs in the South West. I love teaching, and my school was graded as outstanding in all but two categories; my colleagues are great, and I enjoy the day-to-day experience, but I'm not 100 per cent happy.

What else could I be doing that would make the same wage? I am on UPS 2 and have a teaching and learning responsibility (TLR). What jobs are available to teachers with 10 years' experience (classroom-based and managerial)?

A: It's time for a promotion. At the minimum, a post with a TLR attached to see how challenging making things happen can be.

You might consider some professional development if you haven't gained any additional qualifications. But you really need a longer-term strategy. Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years' time? Many of your contemporaries will be starting to look at assistant or even deputy headships, or advisory roles across several schools.

I think you need a new school, with more responsibility for a couple of years and then a second move, or your career is in danger of stagnation. JH

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.

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 on induction and professional development.

John Howson answers careers questions online at; Sara Bubb logs on regularly to our NQT forum to answer your queries at

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