Careers clinic

19th September 2008 at 01:00
If you've got a problem, you know who to ask - our experts. John Howson and Sara Bubb offer advice.

My local authority is undergoing reorganisation with every school restructuring. This makes job security, promotion prospects and life in general uncertain for all staff. Is it worth trying to move elsewhere to have peace of mind at work?

John Howson replies

"Any reorganisation is likely to be problematic for some staff. Fewer schools means fewer promotions and leadership posts and the possibility that even main scale posts will be lost, especially if the reorganisation is taking place during a period of falling school rolls, as is often the case these days.

"I assume the professional associations have negotiated an arrangement with the council about how the change will be handled? Will all new schools be formed at the same time or will there be a rolling programme across the authority? What of those who lose out? Has a package been designed for anyone made redundant or who loses a Teaching and Learning Responsibility payment?

"If you feel the arrangements don't suit you and you have the option to do so, by all means look for an area where the schools are more settled, if that will provide you with peace of mind. After all, it's your career. If too many staff vote with their feet and cannot easily be replaced, the authority may have to look again at how it is treating staff. But, remember, falling rolls in the secondary sector are widespread at present and with government action on so called "failing schools" and the development of new academies, there is less job security generally."

Is it true that supply teachers will eventually be replaced by learning managers and that the demand for supply teachers is falling? I'm taking a PGCE in food technology and am worried there won't be many job opportunities when I graduate.

"The demand for supply teachers has been falling for a number of reasons. This includes the various outcomes of the workload agreement that removed certain tasks from teachers, including some responsibilities for covering for absent colleagues, and the fact that more schools have been able to make appropriate permanent appointments. However, in your subject, I think that you have little to worry about as demand for full-time and temporary teachers of food technology remains high, with above average numbers of maternity leave posts that require temporary teachers. What is likely to be difficult is daily supply work, but you shouldn't really think about that until after your induction year.

"Of course, no teacher can be guaranteed the perfect post just down the road, but you are in a better position than most to find what you want."

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'm working in daycare with children aged three to five and although I spent six weeks in a school working with key stage 2 children, my heart is set on early years. Will my experience in daycare help my application for a PGCE early years place for 2009?

Sara Bubb replies:

"Your experience will be invaluable. So long as you write about it well in your application form, I'm sure you'll be shortlisted. Your application would be strengthened further by having experience in a school, because a PGCE covers at least two key stages - in your case you'll want to apply for one that covers the foundation stage and key stage 1.

"Perhaps it would be possible to do some transition work with your older children to introduce them to school? This would be great for them and give you a greater insight, strengthening your application. Fill in your online application for a place on a PGCE course as soon as possible, and definitely by December 1. Have a look at the information on the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (

"The best and most highly regarded courses are competitive, so you need to make sure that you come across well on paper. It's a good idea to do drafts of your application offline and get some hawk-eyed pedant to go through it with a fine-tooth comb."

I will be working three full days a week this year and should be getting PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time and my 10 per cent for induction on top of that. In my new contract letter it says that the post is a 0.65 full-time equivalent. Is this right?

"I think you are being short-changed. This is how I work it out. Three days' teaching a week is 0.6 of full-time. If you are teaching for all of the three days you should have 10 per cent for PPA, which is 0.06, and 10 per cent of that total for induction, which is 0.066. So I would have thought that in total you should be employed for 0.726 of a full-time post rather than 0.65. In cash terms, that is significant. For instance, if you're in inner London, where the pay for point one on the main pay scale is pound; 25,000, you'll get pound;18,150 a year for a 0.726 contract in contrast to pound;16,250 for a 0.65 one. So, you'll be missing out on pound;1,900 a year. It is a big difference, so it's worth raising the two options with your headteacher - you either teach for less than three full days or get paid more."

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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