The main reason schools take on graduate teacher programme trainees is to grow their own teachers, says Gill Williams
You are on the graduate teacher programme (GTP), employed by your school as an unqualified teacher. So, what happens when you come to the end of your training? Are you still employed by the school? Will being trained on the programme make a difference when you apply for jobs? Can you stay in the same post without having to apply for the job? Or will you have to apply for posts in the same way as any other trainee on other initial teacher-training routes? Once you have qualified teacher status (QTS), can you teach abroad?
The employment-based training routes such as the GTP are different because they mean you are contracted to the school as an unqualified teacher.
Unlike in other routes into teaching, you could still be employed by the school after your training finishes. This could be at the end of the term or later. Check your contract. The good news is that you should be paid until your contract ends, which, in some cases, may include the holidays.
For some schools, the main reason for taking on a GTP trainee is to "grow their own" staff. This happens especially in areas of the country where there are shortages. Having invested in supporting you throughout your training, the school expects you, once qualified, to stay in the school. In some cases, you might be offered a new contract as an newly qualified teacher (NQT); sometimes schools advertise the post and ask you to apply.
Finding the right job
Whether a job is offered to you once you have QTS or whether it is advertised locally or nationally depends largely on which area of the country you are teaching in and on the policy of your local education authority. Not all schools are in a position to offer a trainee a job - and they are under no obligation to do so. If this is the case, then you will have to apply for jobs in the same way as anyone else, sending off letters.
NQTs often apply to local authority recruitment pools where, if successful, their details will be circulated to schools with vacancies.
Others prefer to apply to individual schools. External assessors looking after trainees on the GTP often comment that a high percentage of trainees are already working at NQT level by the time they are assessed for QTS.
Your reference should give an accurate picture of you as a teacher but to get to that stage you need to write an application letter. Don't make the mistake of thinking that all schools know about the graduate teacher programme. If a head has no experience of the scheme - it has been going only eight years - you should explain what it's about and how it works.
Do this at the beginning of your letter. Give plenty of examples from your time in school. Not just of how you have taught pupils, but all those extras bits too. For example, were you a form tutor? Did you attend parents' evenings? Did you help run the school disco? Attend staff meetings? Run clubs? Go on the residential?
Face to face
At the interview, be prepared to talk about the pastoral side of your role, as well as discussing your teaching. Governing bodies want to employ the kind of teacher who goes that "extra mile". You will have spent up to a year employed as an unqualified teacher - use your experiences to demonstrate how you have taken a full part in the life of the school.
Don't forget to ask about arrangements for the induction year - many people trained on the GTP report that the induction year was easier than they had expected!
Although most NQTs do aim to get a teaching job in this country, some may consider teaching abroad. To work in a country within the European Union, teachers are normally required to have completed their induction year.
Applications to teach in Scotland have to go through an exceptional admissions procedure where each application is considered on its own merits. You should expect to provide details of your training programme - there have been problems for some teachers who have qualified on the GTP where there has been a lack of academic content. To teach in a country outside the European Union, you need to contact an agency or find out the entry requirements from the country concerned - check these on www.enic-naric.net. Because the graduate teacher programme is not widely known outside England, be prepared to provide a breakdown of your training programme as part of the application process.